Author: Matthew Pearl
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: Feb 21, 2012
No. of Pages: 470
Format: Paperback, Advance Uncorrected Proof
Matthew Pearl’s new novel, The Technologists. addresses technology as both the harbinger and the beacon to the unknown, and through the unfolding of this mid-nineteenth century story explores the implications of viewing technology as either a welcome friend to humanity or a mad venture toward our demise.
Within this framework, imagine the first class of students attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a school not yet accredited. The setting, of course, is Boston in the infancy of the industrial revolution. Technology is an exciting frontier of knowledge, yet doesn’t qualify for a stable educational path, especially in comparison to the staid and true, represented by the longstanding Harvard tradition. Throw in a dash of seemingly paranormal events in Boston and all accusing eyes are turned toward the technologists, or the Society of Technologists as they are called in the story.
When compasses go spinning and ships crash in Boston harbor and glass windows melt to liquid in the streets, all hell breaks loose and literally so in the minds of many, who at the time reign from the biblical vs. Darwinian approach. Marcus Mansfield and his fellow M.I.T. classmates will come to be viewed as either demons or saviors. They will bear the blame or save the city from the apparent work of a mad man. Though the setting is real, Pearl’s reimagined Boston compels a somewhat surrealistic story which readers of mystery and steampunk will thoroughly enjoy.
At 470 pages, the story takes a convoluted path at times, but in the end this somewhat elongated story arc does hold up. Readers who enjoy twists and turns and a few excursions in between will surely appreciate the story and be well-rewarded when the plot comes together. That being said, The Technologists is an especially good read for readers that favor the compelling force of plot over character. Readers who prefer rich character development or require a distinct empathy with one character may find the many different characters confusing at times and lead character, Marcus Mansfield, falling a bit flat.
All in all, The Technologists is an exciting story with a fresh crossover between historical and fantasy genres. Matthew Pearl comes across as a modern H.G. Wells with this steampunk punch into modern literature. Think The Time Machine or Sherlock Holmes meets The Dead Poets Society and you have a book that delivers. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that diverges into mystery and fantasy and I give it 4 out of a possible 5 magic books!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this Advanced Reader Uncorrected Proof from a publicist at Random House. All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.