Review, Book Tour & Giveaway: The Technologists

The Technologists
The Technologists
By Matthew Pearl
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400066575, February 21, 2012, 496pp.)

The Short of It:

Mysterious and thrilling. The Technologists is the best kind of historical thriller. Learn a little, enjoy a lot.

The Rest of It:

Boston, 1868. The story opens with a catastrophe that no one can explain. Ships, coming in from the harbor are suddenly unable to navigate with the instruments they have. As the instrumentation goes haywire, vessels of all shapes and sizes crash into the harbor one by one. A sight that is hard to imagine, but even worse to witness firsthand. What caused this? Who caused this? Will it happen again?

This mysterious event piques the curiosity of many. Including the students of The Institute who live and breathe science and know that there must be a scientific explanation for what’s occurred. Except, society as a whole has not accepted science as an answer and in fact, would do almost anything to discredit it. Especially the Harvard boys who believe it’s just a bunch of hooey.

This creates quite a challenge for the students of the Institute, led by Marcus Mansfield and the group called The Technologists. They band together, with the assistance of the Institute’s only female student, Ellen Swallow to solve the mystery of what happened in that harbor on that fateful day, and the other disasters that follow in its wake.

I have a tiny crush on Matthew Pearl. He doesn’t know it, but that’s okay. His name might be familiar to you. A few years back he released The Last Dickens which I reviewed here. I don’t know if it is his writing, the fact that he chooses Boston in the late 1800’s as a setting (love), or what, but whatever he is doing, I am liking. The other thing to note, is that his books tend to cross many genres and they never seem to bore me. That’s always a plus. For example, I love mysterious elements but I am not a fan of mystery as a genre. Somehow, he manages to present the mysterious elements within historical fact which is endlessly fascinating to me.

This book pulls you in quickly and has just the right amount of science to make it interesting. At times, I felt the book a tad too long. In between the excitement of the disasters themselves, there is a great deal of experimentation and let’s be honest here, I couldn’t wait for the next disaster to hit and got a little cranky in-between the events when things didn’t happen right away. However, the practice of science is not a speedy task. There are notes to be taken, results to be reviewed, etc. Had it been written any other way, I’m sure I would have found fault with it. So in the end, these experimental “asides” did not keep me from enjoying the novel.

Overall, the characters are realistically drawn and the events, thrilling. To think that science was at one time compared to black magic is almost too difficult to believe, but Pearl truly gives the reader a glimpse of how it was for that first graduating class at MIT and many of the characters are based on actual students.

If you like to learn something while being entertained, you will undoubtedly enjoy this one. And if you’re lucky, you could win a copy of your own (see details below).

Source: ARC and giveaway copy is provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Matthew Pearl

Matthew’s website, Facebook page, and book trailer. To visit the the other blogs on the tour, click here.

Giveaway Information

The publisher has offered me one copy of The Technologists to giveaway! Giveaway is open to the US and Canada. The publisher will send the book to the winner and the winner will be notified by me. To enter, complete the form below. Giveaway ends on February 19, 2012.

The giveaway is now closed!

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33 thoughts on “Review, Book Tour & Giveaway: The Technologists”

  1. For some reason, I’ve always pictured the author Matthew Pearl as much older. I should read this one because of the Boston setting. Haven’t managed to read any of his others yet.

  2. I love Pearl, and loved The Last Dickens. I missed my chance to review this book, and it sounds like I made a huge mistake! I also have a hard time believing that science was akin to black magic during this time, but I bet Pearl makes this story and the characters surrounding it absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the excellent review, Ti! I was smiling thinking about you anxiously awaiting the next catastrophe!

  3. Your review piqued my interest in this particular book, but was much more effective in sparking some serious curiosity about Matthew Pearl. I must admit I’ve never read any of his stuff, but your gushing (and crushing) reaction to him has inspired me. Thanks!

  4. This sounds like a great book, really interesting. I love the Boston setting, next to NYC it’s one of my favorite spots and the historical aspect is cool.
    I haven’t read any of Pearl’s books yet <> but my husband has read 2 or 3 and totally enjoyed them, he loves Pearl’s writing.
    Loved your review, Ti, you really piqued my interest in this book.

    (Does Murakami know you have a crush on Pearl? hmmmm…?! )

  5. You had me with your “short of it!” I have this one on my shelf and must make time to read it soon. If only I could be sitting on the couch staring out at the snow instead of working…ah well. I hope to find time for it soon!

    1. You have snow and we have our first rainy day in I don’t know how long. And where am I? At work in my BASEMENT office. No windows. Can’t even glimpse the drops coming down.

  6. I so enjoy it when I learn a little bit and totally enjoy my reading experience. I passed on this one because Feb. was packed and it sounds like I missed out on a great read. However, I’m sure I will read it at some point!

  7. My hubby is reading The Last Dickens right now and I just picked up The Dante Club but it sounds like we need to add yet one more Matthew Pearl to our reading piles!

  8. Glad to see you enjoyed this. Generally most books with a Boston setting (especially thrillers) seem to appeal to me. Great giveaway — I do have this one!

  9. Wasn’t his debut about Dante? I loved it. I think I have Poe Shadow somewhere in the house. I too love books set in Boston and yes, I live near but I really don’t know Boston like I should. But books set there are cool for some reason.

    1. You may be right. I thought Poe came before Dante’s Club but I’m not sure. He writes about cool people and time periods. Almost an old soul, really.

  10. I’m glad Pearl didn’t let you down with his latest book! I haven’t read anything by him yet but apparently I’m missing out.

    Thanks for being on the tour Ti. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  11. I just finished this last night and wanted to thank you for putting it on my radar! Fun, interesting, and led me to some really cool google-ing looking for the real Ellen Swallow Richards.

    I couldn’t help laughing at one point when they were saying why they were afraid of technology….one day people would forget how to light a candle. Made me think of how few people can find their way out of a paper bag anymore without GPS.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! I did a lot of Googling after I read it too. I didn’t know until the end that it was based on real people.Seeing that I work in technology I found it very amusing. I work for a university and you wouldn’t believe how our faculty act sometimes when it comes to using technology. Good lord!

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