Book Review By Grace Gardener
When you spend the majority of a book wishing it were a different genre, I think you can safely say that genre is not entirely your thing. In that way, you could say reading The Number of Love was useful to me. I now know that romance is simply not my thing. The book itself wasn’t bad per se, so parts of this review are subjective and will probably not be applicable to people who do enjoy romance.
The book, authored by Roseanna M. White, follows young Margot de Wylde. Margot works in Room 40, Great Britain’s code-breaking department during WWI. She thinks in numbers, and actually says that God is the only person she knows for sure is smarter than she is. Oh, and she hates it when girls giggle when a boy looks at them. I don’t think she ever says it, but she’s “not like other girls”. You might even says she’s slightly better than all other girls. Margot is very convinced that she will never marry, and then she meets Drake. Drake is a secret agent for the British with Spanish ancestors, so you know how this is going to end.
The problem with romance books is that – if you read enough of them – you know pretty much what’s going to happen. The whole point of the book is that it is a romance, so you know the two main characters will get together. If that wouldn’t be the case, the whole book would be for nothing. So, while reading endless pages about the characters’ internal conflicts, there was never any doubt in my mind as to what their final decision would be. This, in turn, made all of the “will-they-won’t-they” rather boring and useless. If it’s certain something is going to happen, it’s annoying to first have to plow through all the mental gymnastics necessary to make it happen. Even exciting side plots such as the one in this book – with a German spy out for revenge – are a lot less suspenseful when the people in danger are the ones in love: if they die, they can’t end up together, and therefore they won’t die.
My second main gripe was Margot: she’s insufferable. I already mentioned above how she’s the typical “not like other girls” figure, and it always makes me wonder what audience the author is trying to attract with these characters. I’m certainly not attracted to a character who – though sharing my love for mathematics – clearly would think I was an idiot if she met me. Margot constantly reminds us that she doesn’t follow society’s standards, that she’s not girly, that she’s special. I couldn’t care less, honestly. Wanting to marry and not wanting to are both fine. Liking makeup and not caring about it are both fine. (She also made a point of not caring about her appearance, cause apparently that’s lightheaded or something, and I’m just going to say: if you don’t care what you look like, fix that attitude. God made you beautiful, the least you can do is make yourself look presentable. You don’t have to care about clothes or fashion or makeup or whatever, but not caring what you look like at all is stupid.) Also, being ugly or “plain” is not a badge of honour, stop acting like that makes you special.
Anyway, as you can see: this book was not for me at all. Part of the reason was subjective, but the other part is really something I don’t think is a good trend in books. Girls looking down on other girls for being “too girly” and giggling is very wrong. God made us this way, and if you are a bit different than the typical image of a girl, that’s fine. It doesn’t make you better than anybody else, though. And as somebody who likes mathematics: don’t worry, I don’t look down on y’all. I just acknowledge I’m the most rational person in the room and move on ;-).