Chapters alternate between the book’s present in 2030 and the past, beginning with Green’s childhood and working up chronologically. The structure is episodic, more like a series of loosely connected vignettes than a fully fleshed-out novel. The novel revolves around Max’s life and worldview to an extreme degree; supporting characters mostly exist to forward Max’s plot, enrich his life, and show how cool or suave or smart or philanthropic he is, with little emphasis on character development. Indeed, it’s only Max and his band of famous or rich friends who can save the day, with their copious money and that of their business connections. Some readers may be troubled by the conclusion that ALS can and should be cured by private investors because they’ll make money on the treatments. Others may be left cold by the way the narration glosses over both how Max made his money and how he feels about the extraordinary events of his life.
This book melds genres, combining science fiction’s futuristic technology, an adventure novel, a fictional life story, and a saga about the quest for a medical cure. It’s full of heart and filled with frank depictions of the reality experienced by people living with ALS. Readers who love stories about one exceptional man saving the world will find their wishes fulfilled here.
Takeaway: This novel, which recounts one man’s pursuit to end ALS with all the money and heart he can muster, will appeal to readers who like exceptional heroes singlehandedly saving the world.
Great for fans of: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series, Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B