Chaos Theory

ScienceThrillers.com book review of Chaos Theory by M. Evonne Dobson.

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Publication date: February 3, 2015
Category: young adult mystery
Tech rating (out of 5; what does this mean?):

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Summary (from the publisher):

Seventeen-year-old Kami is into science, way smarter than she should be, a little obtuse, and born to investigate. The kind of girl who excels in Martial Arts and runs a chaos theory experiment in her locker. Kami finds a way to focus her talents when she meets Daniel, whose younger sister Julia died from an overdose of prescription drugs—drugs that the cops think came from Daniel’s stash. First Daniel turns up at Kami’s MA class, and later she saves him from a couple of drug dealers at the local skate park. Neither episode endears him to her, but Kami views life as a series of data points, and in Daniel’s case, the data do not add up. Her theory turns out to be correct: Daniel is taking he fall to protect his sister’s reputation—and to work with the cops to find out who really supplied his sister with drugs. Kami assembles a team of sleuths to help Daniel meet those goals. Top of the list is her best friend Sandy, who can con anybody out of anything, every time. Sandy’s boyfriend Sam, editor of the school newspaper, is researcher in chief. Then there is gorgeous Gavin, a computer genius whose abilities to help are hindered by the fact that he’s already in trouble with the cops for hacking. Daniel’s novice police handler provides a link to law enforcement. The trail leads to the local stables, where Julia kept a stash of drugs. The team next uncovers a link to the manufacturer of the drugs. Working with the police, Kami goes undercover as an intern at the pharmaceutical company that makes the drugs that killed Julia. But she’s not the only undercover agent on the trail.

In Chaos Theory, first time author M Evonne Dobson not only tells a fast-paced mystery, but also explores her protagonist’s deep need to understand the chaotic lives of those around her, lives that refuse to be neat, clean, and simple. Especially when death happens to those you love.

ScienceThrillers review:

Chaos Theory (Kami Files) is a young adult mystery featuring an engaging female teen protagonist named Kami who has a decidedly scientific bent of mind. She’s won science fair awards and has dedicated her school locker to an experiment on chaos theory that she hopes will help her get accepted to MIT.

From my point of view as a reviewer of science-themed fiction, I was disappointed that these science-y themes faded as the story progressed, but I got hooked on Kami and her friends. Toward the end of book when Kami goes “undercover” at a pharmaceutical company, I expected a bit of science to creep back in but that wasn’t the case. Chaos Theory has more horse culture than science fair culture in it (I’m surprised the horses aren’t mentioned more in the back cover blurb; are today’s girls not as totally into horses as I was?).

Nevertheless, Kami’s approach to life and to investigation is every bit the scientist’s approach. She’s a sensible, smart, ambitious, and generous girl who’s willing to take risks. Her romantic entanglements are deftly handled in the story without excessive angst and conflict; this girl isn’t flighty or foolish. Best of all, while tragedy lurks in the background, Chaos Theory has no dystopian elements. I’ve had enough of that literary trend.

Chaos Theory is a thoroughly enjoyable YA mystery with a well-written cast of characters, believable action, and a respectful attitude toward science and young people who are interested in science. Kami is a bit of a 21st century Nancy Drew and I hope she has many more adventures.

FCC disclaimer: An advance reader copy of this book was given to me for review. As always, I made no guarantee that I would read the book or post a positive review.

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