I Am Radar by Reif Larsen

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I Am Radar

Five words from the blurb: secretive, scientists, puppeteers, identity, history

I Am Radar is an outstanding book and is epic in terms of both size and scope. It is almost impossible to explain the plot, and to attempt to do so would ruin the magic of discovering it for yourself, but I can say that it is an immersive experience, vividly describing places as diverse as Norway, Cambodia, America and the Congo. The central theme is one of identity, but this single word is not enough to convey the complex range of subjects covered.

This book is like a literary springboard and I was surprised to discover that the numerous books mentioned within the text existed (and I have since bought a couple). It is a global book, realistically portraying each individual culture and providing the reader with information about a range of historical events.

In the world he had left behind, the differences people used to judge each other, to kill each other, to declare war upon each other – these  differences were often largely invisible: religious, ideological, ethnic distinctions not obvious until a name, an accent was revealed. During the wars, the armies wore uniforms that designated them as Partisan, Chetnik, Ustase, but for the populace at large, one could shape-shift between these definitions, depending on who was knocking at your door.

The science in this book was also extremely well researched. I loved the way that it included complex theories, developing them in plausible new directions. Charts and diagrams were used to explain concepts, the beautiful way they were drawn further enhancing the reading experience.

I Am Radar effortlessly blends fact with fiction and I enjoyed looking up anything that sounded too far-fetched, only to discover that it had actually happened. Some people might complain that the plot meanders too slowly, but I was so engrossed in each element I didn’t care.

The ending was disappointing at first, but with time I realised how clever it was. This is one of those books that improves with scrutiny. There are so many layers and different aspects to think about that more is revealed with every re-reading.

It is the sheer intelligence of this book that impresses me so much. The author’s grasp of such a diverse range of subjects leaves me in awe. I finished it feeling as though I’d learnt more than whilst reading any other book. If you enjoy learning  about the world then this is an essential read. It isn’t easy or quick, but all effort is rewarded.


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  1. Annabel says:

    Bought this yesterday – very excited now! I adored TS Spivet.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. Christy says:

    Strong recommendation – I’ll have to add it to my to-read list. I’ve read several books that had endings like you describe – immediate sense of disappointment, that upon reflection, gives way to admiration and acceptance of that ending as fitting and right.

    1. Jackie says:

      Christy, Yes, me too. Sometimes it is the best way – it just takes the reader a while to realise this!

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