Publication Date: January 30th, 2013
Don Tillman is a brilliant geneticist with good looks to match, but he can’t seem to ever get a second date. At thirty-nine, he’s ready to find a partner, and begins the scientific search of The Wife Project.
Enter Rosie, the most incompatible woman, who throws Don’s whole search into chaos. But underneath it all, Don finds himself drawn to her and realizes that there are some things even science can’t explain.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read: July 7, 2018
After the slump I was in from reading Dark Places, I knew that I needed something light and fun. This was given to me last year as a birthday present, and I had heard really good things all over the online book community for ages. It was also one of the few books I had with me that wasn’t remotely close to my own novel (which I am currently reading through before Draft #2), so, I decided to pick it up.
Let’s just say that I started this book at dinner, and by the end of the day, I had very happily and excitedly read half the book. Not only did it grab my attention from the very beginning, it also did a really good job of pacing itself so that the plot remained interesting.
I’ve never read a book with a character suspected to be on the Asperger’s spectrum before, so this was incredibly new and refreshing for me. In a note at the end of the book, Graeme Simsion mentions that he didn’t do any specific kind of research into people on the spectrum, but rather, wrote what he felt would most suit the character of Don. I do wish that Simsion did some research about it before writing the character of Don, but I also don’t have enough experience to be the judge of how accurate his writing is. That’s something that I feel is important enough to note – that the accuracy of how Don is portrayed is not something I can judge and that it wasn’t researched beforehand by the author.
Aside from that, I found that it was really easy to get into the story. Don is a very likable character, despite his shortcomings. I liked being in his head and trying to understand more of what it was like to be him. I also liked watching him go through the process of eliminating bad candidates for the Wife Project. It made me think of how I used to joke about handing out applications for a boyfriend.
The premise of using a questionnaire to find a suitable partner is really interesting. In theory, it’s been done through dating websites and matchmaking programs. A series of basic questions are asked to determine compatibility with another human being, and a relationship is supposed to stem from that. I think that the way Don modified it for himself was really smart and made a lot of sense for him. If that was possible for me to find my ideal partner with a 100% guaranteed success, I would most likely try it because I’d like to see what kind of person I’d end up with. I think that the way the Wife Project was structured was clever and made the plot incredibly interesting.
Normally, I’m not really into contemporaries that are mostly romance-focused. I rarely ever read straight-up romance because it’s too mushy and doesn’t make enough sense to me. As someone who is highly logical and less emotional, my solution to everything is to communicate consistently and clearly. And I think that romances are often too unrealistic because they make love and relationships seem like such a I-Need-This-Or-I-Will-Die kind of thing. However, the way that the romance was handled in this book made it really enjoyable. It was more realistic in that real-life factors were being taken into consideration, and both characters were remaining fairly logical and objective about the things at hand. It made their love story different from anything else that I’ve read, and I would safely say that this is one of the few romantic contemporaries that I would recommend to other people.
Mostly, I think that I really enjoyed getting to watch the story unfold from Don’s perspective. It made everything more interesting because I wouldn’t necessarily have come to the same conclusions as Don, even though they make perfect sense. I liked watching how his mind worked and how sound his logic was, even though a normal person would have acted differently. I thought it made him a different kind of normal, and I liked watching him grow as the story progressed.
By the end of the book, I was so invested and had to figure out what was happening that I did my best to finish the book before my friend came over to watch anime. My roommate witnessed me sitting on my bed and reading very intensely until I got to the end of the book. To say that I wish I had the sequel with me would be an understatement. The openness of the ending made me throw the book onto my bed (don’t worry, the book is fine and I only threw it that one time) and proceed to grumble about how I put the sequel in storage for the summer because I didn’t think I was going to get to it. I was still grumbling about how I wanted the next book when my friend came over to watch anime, and I made him sit through five minutes of me talking about why this is such a good book and how stupid I felt for putting the sequel in storage.
I thought that Don was a very well-written character. It’s understandable how a lot of things that normal people do don’t make sense to him. Personally, I was able to relate a little with his confusion as to how dating works and his aversion to physical contact. His comment that there are too many social etiquette rules to the dating world is something I agree with, and I felt for him as he related his experiences with trying to figure out how to behave on a normal date. He had a lot of solid character development as the book progressed, and it was very enjoyable to read from his perspective.
I liked Rosie a lot. The way she pushed Don without even trying, and how she brought a color and lightness to the story is a mark of how good Graeme Simsion is as a writer. He created a character who balanced Don out without being overwhelming, and still gave her qualities that made her stand on her own while complimenting him. Her personality and spontaneity made her a lot of fun to read about, and I also enjoyed watching her character arc unfold as the story progressed.
Gene felt a little generic and stiff to me. He was good in the sense that he made Don think about things differently, but he was also annoying because he never seemed like a true friend. He felt more like the token male character who needed to prove his masculinity and manliness through a series of nonsensical actions. I wish that there was some more depth to him.
5 stars. I think it’s really worth picking up. I have yet to hear a bad thing about this book and I think that it’s really refreshing as a romantic contemporary.