Grace Allison and Laren Bright’s Einstein’s Compass (2019) is a glorious romp through a fantastical world of dragons and god-like light healers who are entrusted with protecting mankind from the realms of evil–wrapped around the historically-accurate adventures of the incomparable Albert Einstein. It starts with young Albert being gifted a compass. Being who he is, he is exhilarated and entranced, wanting to understand everything there is to know about magnetism and the forces that make that little needle point North. What he doesn’t realize is that this is a magical compass, containing valuable pieces of a mystical tool that will, in the right hands, keep the world safe, but in the wrong hands, give ultimate power to a devious creature with no respect for the boundaries between good and evil. To make that point, the authors provide us with a peek into the violent world that this special compass holds at bay. What we find is a power-crazed shape-shifter, a corrupted light healer with an insatiable lust for power.
Between his brow and the top of his skull were two chitinous horns. His burning, red eyes were riveted on the Ark, and an ichorous liquid escaped his lips as he salivated in anticipation. In one swift movement, the dark angel grasped and effortlessly lifted the Ark.
He seems unstoppable until he meets young Albert Einstein, his magical compass, and the forces of good arrayed to help the boy defeat evil.
I follow Grace Allison on social media and have been excited to read this book since I first saw it listed. What could be better than a YA book about one of the incomparable minds in history? Although it is intended for a Young Adult audience, it is well suited to adults who enjoy fictionalized history with a wide-ranging epic theme and a Harry Potter-esque plot.
Somehow, triangles seem to blend nature and science. I even see geometric designs in the flowers in the garden
Life was a series of “Xs” he decided, a series of unknowns.
“It’s complicated, Albert,” Akra interjected. “The laws of space and time, as you are learning, are filled with paradoxes and contradictions.”
As the revelation dawned, he suddenly understood that as you approach the speed of light, space distorts. Things would appear shortened. Everything was relative! Albert gasped as he became aware that he had the fundamentals of his new theory of light.
In fact, I would even call this historical fanfiction, the magic and fantasy built on top of the factual world of Albert Einstein. I was delighted when the story delved into Einstein’s famous mind experiments. That is perfect for YAs struggling with how to solve problems.
This is highly recommended for those who enjoy a saga of good vs. evil that spans tens of thousands of years, for readers who devour novels that blend history and fantasy, and for anyone who is simply looking for a unique story that they will not want to put down.
This book combines an impressive array of genres such as history, science, fantasy, religion, and folklore to create a unique story that explores how Einstein was able to approach answering his scientific theories. Written in multiple parts, readers spend time with Einstein as a boy through his growth into a young man while also traveling tens of thousands of years throughout history to learn more about the antagonist, Raka, and his quest to obtain the compass as a means to solidify his desire for ultimate power. Featuring a veritable who's who cast of historical figures that function as "Light Workers" and other intermediaries throughout Einstein's life, these individuals gradually inform him about the nature of his gifts to not only himself, but to mankind as well. The story also showcases Einstein's own process of thought experiments as he is thrust into the ultimate battle between good and evil.
The story opens with quite a powerful bang, introducing us to Raka and his descent into madness. I'll admit that initially I wasn't quite sure how such a fantastical opening was going to connect with Einstein, but as the various parts and interludes unfolded, I was able to settle into this quite intricate story. Having not read much about the life of Einstein, I appreciated the historical fiction side of the story. His character came alive on the page and I enjoyed discovering the truth about the compass and its destiny right along with Einstein. As a lover of fantasy, I also really enjoyed when the story focused on Raka and his predicament; however, I felt that some of the tension and suspense were lost in the beginning because of the sudden shifts in perspective. There were times when this jumping back and forth was not so seamless so as to maintain momentum, but once Raka and Einstein were set to converge, the pacing picked up again and never let go until the very end. Ultimately, I can now appreciate this unique and attention-grabbing style of storytelling that really pulled science and fantasy into a tangled weave!
There is certainly a lot to unpack with this story between the time traveling, mystical aspects, and jumps in narrative structure; however, there was never a singular inundation of any of those elements to cause a distraction to the overall reading experience. There is a moment in the story when Einstein travels back in time to the city of Atlantis and begins a discussion on reincarnation with Arka, Raka's twin and an Atlantean leader. Einstein is unsure about his overall comprehension of the topic and remarks, "I feel like the whole foundation of what I believe is being shaken, so, for the moment, let's say that I will entertain this idea." In many ways, I felt this spoke to the essence of reading and understanding the entirety of this story. Go into it with an open mind and you may be as surprised as I was at how enjoyable the process and end result became!
What if Einstein's remarkable theories came from his personal journeys through space and time? Einstein's Compass: a YA Time Traveler Adventure blends this premise into a broader examination of mythology as it opens with a brief glimpse of life in Atlantis and moves to the dilemmas surrounding Raka, a fallen Angel of Light. The spiritual shudder he experienced an eon ago leads to his theft of a vial of DNA and exposes the resentment he holds for his uncle, who won't share secrets with him.
He seeks rewards and recognition from the Council of the Sons of Belial in exchange for betraying his fellow Atlanteans, but the secret of the Firestone crystal continues to elude him.
This is a YA read; but it should be mentioned that graphic violence is part of the storyline ("...with a ghastly smile, Raka viciously yanked the general’s hand and ripped the general’s entire arm from its socket. As his victim screamed in terror and agony, Raka regarded the arm thoughtfully. He began to gnaw on it with relish. The general lived long enough to see Raka devour his other arm and start on his legs. He did not live long enough to see Raka transform into a perfect replica of the man he was consuming."). Such descriptions may give pause to adults seeking 'clean' reading for teens, but these moments are in keeping with plot development and are not excessive in appearance, nor over-emphasized.
Young Albert Einstein is in possession of a compass that allows him to travel in time and space. Unfortunately, he holds a coveted key to not just enlightenment, but power, and he soon discovers that dangerous supernatural forces from different eras are also searching for his prize.
Readers anticipating the usual timeslip saga may at first be surprised by the inclusion of and focus on these supernatural entities. As Raka stalks his unsuspecting prey, willing to pay the karmic price for assaulting the holder of the prized Shamir, Albert faces the death of a beloved friend, an increasing awareness of his power and its danger, and a journey that embraces not just mythological forces, but Biblical times, Jesus, and Albert's own roots in Atlantis.
These subplots lend complexity to Einstein's Compass that will be intriguing and absorbing to mature YA readers; especially prior fans of timeslip sagas more used to such stories holding historical rather than fantasy backgrounds.
Under Grace Blair and Laren Bright's hands, Einstein's Compass is more than just another time travel story, but one of soul searching, enlightenment, and classic struggles between good and evil. During this journey, young Albert embraces the threat of death and world-changing perspectives.
Indeed, Albert will change the world, one day. But the roots of his knowledge and endeavors take a different turn in a riveting fantasy about soul-searching and growth which will keep young adult readers engrossed to the end.
Review #1: Review by K.C. Finn
Review Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Einstein’s Compass is a work of science fiction written for young adults, penned by author duo Grace Blair and Laren Bright. Taking a figure from real history and fictionalizing around him, the story places the young Albert Einstein as the holder of a mysterious compass which allows him to travel in space and time. From dimension to dimension, to places mythical and real, Albert is able to develop his unique way of thinking about the universe, a skill he will come to use to change the modern world as we know it. But despite this fulfillment of his destiny, there are those who would use the compass for themselves, and for purposes that are far darker.
For a relatively quick read in a young adult context, this novel packs in a huge amount of detail and spans several different genres due to the time-traveling nature of Albert’s compass. The historical elements, in particular, were brought to life with fantastic descriptions and a lot of well-researched detail, even for the smallest of elements, and it’s this attention to detail that makes the story so rich as a whole reading experience. Author duo Grace Blair and Laren Bright weave an intriguing plot that is disparate to begin with but comes together with a fantastic swell of energy towards the end and builds to a startling and brilliant conclusion. Overall, Einstein’s Compass is a highly recommended story for those readers who enjoy an involved plot with plenty of amazing scenery, details and clever connections.