The Improbably Theory of Anna and Zak by Brian Katcher

This next books is a geeky romance between two high school students. When I heard about this book I couldn’t resist making it my next read.

Ana and Zak are to high school seniors from different social circles. Ana is the type that always studies and never has any fun, while Zak flies though school by the seat of his pants and always has time for tabletop game in the school library. When Ana’s little brother Clayton unexpectedly leaves the hotel during their trip to the Quiz Bowel to run around the local scifi convention Washingcon, the unlikely pair team up to find him before their teacher realizes he’s missing. Along they way they have their own adventure and discover they just might have more in common with each other than they ever realized.

When we first meet Ana she is rushing to get to archery practice on time. She’s constantly moving with a regimented schedule. Her parent’s expect her home at a certain time not accepting her excuse that her coach kept her after practice, tell her where she’s going to go to college, and her mother still picks out her younger brother’s cloths. An older sister is mentioned, and that since Nichole did something her parent’s disproved of two years previously, this has been their life. We soon learn she’s not allowed to visit a friend’s house unless it’s school related, that no matter how high her grades are it’s not good enough, that she can’t get pizza out with her teammates, or do anything even remotely resembling having fun. She desperately wants to put her foot down and make her own decision about college, but is too afraid of what her parents will do to speak up. She’s so high strung  and uptight she comes off as a stuck up snob and a bitch to Zak.

When we first meet Zak, he’s trying to avoid his stepfather who wants the two of them to toss a football around. He has in issue with his stepfather’s mere presence in his life and him constantly pushing sports. We soon learn he’s a Geek who isn’t serious about school and loves the local annual convention, Washingcon. In fact he goes every year as it is his one escape from his not so great home life and he’s bummed to have to miss it to participate in the Quiz bowl. He’s so laid back about school that Anna assumes he’s a dumb slacker with no future.

Of course, perception is nine tenths of the truth, and that first impressions aren’t everything. After all, if Darcy and Elizabeth relied solely on their first impressions of one another they never would have fallen in love. As their story unfolds, things go from bad, to crazy, to worse, and everything comes crashing down around them in the morning. Along they way, they get to know one another and learn that the other isn’t exactly the person they seem. They also learn a few lessons from each other along the way, and they just might be falling for one another too by the end of the night.

The book is told in alternating first person, giving us a glimpse into each of the characters lives and heads. I kind of like this way of telling a story, that way you get to POV characters and you get to learn more about the characters, plus they don’t have to always be together to tell the story. We learn early on that their personalities differ, but neither has an ideal home life, they just don’t realize it. We also get to see their perceptions of one another change as the night and story go on.

I really liked both Ana and Zak, they were fully realized characters that could be any kid an any high school. The full cast of supporting characters was colorful, imaginative, and I could fully picture each and every one of them. To the teacher and sponsor for the Quiz Bowl, to Strawberry to cosplaying teenage girl. I could even hear Strawberry’s overly saccharine voice in my head.

The book is full of references to pop culture and geekdom. From Scooby Do to Star Wars and Star Trek to the Hunger Games.

While everything that happens to Ana and Zak isn’t exactly believable, It was still an awesome read. I give it Five Lightsabers.


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