In the sea of contemporary novels with cute protagonists, an adorable love story and the “I’m not like the other girls” kind of trope, I have to say that Zenn’s Diagram kind of stood out, and as I’m writing this, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s the kind of book that will make you smile, care for the characters and bring a lot of emotions, or just maybe it was really, really a sweet book that you can think about fondly once you’re done with it. Maybe a little bit of both.
A CONTEMPORARY WITH A TWIST
With a math genius and a guy apparently not so good in maths needing some tutoring, you can see right from the start where this story is going. Except that Zenn Diagram is more, way more than just about maths and a love story, thanks to the little twist added in Eva, the main character. This is not a spoiler since it’s revealed in the synopsis: when touching people’s things, objects that belong to them, clothes, calculators, anything, really, she can see them. Feel their emotions, the weight of their secrets, and with just one touch, she can know way more about strangers than she’d ever wish to. So I guess you could call this a lovely contemporary with a kind of weird, but very interesting twist, taking Eva from the maths nerd to a character that has way more to reveal.
REALISTIC CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS
As often, especially in books like that where the characters take a huge lot of place because no one is on a race off to fight the evil, characters matter a lot. If, at the beginning, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to connect and enjoy the main character, Eva, she quickly grew on me, because she felt really human, really teenager, and really true to herself from beginning to end. She had her own insecurities, she confronted a lot her parents’ needs and her own, she always thought about her future and her dreams and confronted them to reality, which made me relate to her a lot. Zenn was also one character I enjoyed, even if he did seem a bit too “perfect” to be true, at times, he was really a sweet character fighting off for what he really wanted, and there was more to him that what you think at first, which was interesting.
Something I loved about both of them were the opposite dynamics they had in their lives, from a big family on Eva’s side to just his mom on Zenn’s side, from the Maths genius to the Art guy. Opposites attract here for sure, but also I found that they completed each other very nicely in this story. However, two things slightly bothered me in this love story: first of all, it kind of felt like love at first side on Eva’s side, since we only get her point of view, and I found her becoming very quickly infatuated with Zenn. Second of all, well…the story was built on a lot of mis-communication, which quickly could become kind of annoying -however, I guess sometimes life is made of mis-communication just as well, so that didn’t feel too far off from the truth.
ORIGINALITY & PLOT TWISTS
Zenn Diagram really stood out for two things here, for me: the original idea of Eva’s “talent” (which would be, in that case, more of a curse than a talent? I guess, not being able to touch anyone without being fried by their own feelings and trouble is kind of a curse?) ; and a little something called a plot twist at the middle of the book. I’m not going to reveal here, and if I’m being completely honest, as I read on, I found myself almost guessing it. I didn’t know what it was, but I had a slight theory about something like this actually happening, so I guess it didn’t shock me that much and the unpredictability of this was a bit, well, that didn’t work. That being said, I wasn’t bothered by it at all: this addition, complication in the whole story and characters relationship was very, very interesting, and I loved reading about how the heck they were supposed to try and figure this out – part of this ended up in me wanting to read the whole half end of the book in one go.
Zenn Diagram was a contemporary full of surprises. I didn’t have many expectations when I started this and I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the story and the characters that much. If you are into sweet contemporary stories with a little twist of something different, then I would 100% recommend this.
Final rating: 4 drops!
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Wendy Brant, Zenn Diagram, Published by Kids Can Press, April 4th 2017.
Eva Walker is a seventeen-year-old math genius. And if that doesn’t do wonders for her popularity, there’s another thing that makes it even worse: when she touches another person or anything that belongs to them — from clothes to textbooks to cell phones — she sees a vision of their emotions. She can read a person’s fears and anxieties, their secrets and loves … and what they have yet to learn about calculus. This is helpful for her work as a math tutor, but it means she can never get close to people. Eva avoids touching anyone and everyone. People think it’s because she’s a clean freak — with the emphasis on freak — but it’s all she can do to protect herself from other people’s issues.
Then one day a new student walks into Eva’s life. His jacket gives off so much emotional trauma that she falls to the floor. Eva is instantly drawn to Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist who also has a troubled home life, and her feelings only grow when she realizes that she can touch Zenn’s skin without having visions. But when she discovers the history that links them, the truth threatens to tear the two apart.