Three Stars

Review: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs


Book: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Format: Physical book, from Book of the Month club
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

From the Goodreads page:

The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down—and protect—before others can get their hands on it.

Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.

While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.

As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son—a theoretical physicist—and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives


I wanted to like this book more. I was so excited when I saw this as a BOTM option. I was a huge fan of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and loved the concept of this book being written in clue form. I mean – it says it right there on the cover: A Novel In Clues.

I felt like that promise was empty. Yes, while we followed Hazel in her journey to find the truth of what happened to her grandfather, I was under the impression (or maybe I just hoped) that we would be given the clues to try to figure out on the way. The clues that were used weren’t what I was expecting. And honestly, I didn’t find that there were a lot of clues to begin with.

Most books I read are written with multiple perspectives. I enjoy a book that handles multiple perspectives well. I do not feel like this book needed the different viewpoints. I would have preferred the story to be solely from Hazel’s point of view. And for the promise of clues to be more…clue-y. This book really reads more as a general fiction/family drama piece, less as a mystery.

I found this book to be well written and the plot idea to be interesting. However, I never found myself exactly wanting to read it. That is not to say I forced myself to read this book; I would rather have stopped reading it altogether than to force myself through it. But…it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s honestly a 2.5 for me but I rounded up to 3 stars because I did enjoy the writing. I will even check out another book from Nova Jacobs in the future.

The cover is fun, though! I like the color combo and really enjoyed getting to the part of the book that made me realize why the cover was designed the way it was. I would probably knock off the novel in clues thing, but hey, that’s just me. As a true crime/mystery/thriller fan, I think I was expecting just more from that little line than was intended.


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