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The Theory of Everything

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  621 ratings  ·  116 reviews
One part Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE, two parts String Theory, and three parts love story equals a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world.

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 11th 2013 by Philomel Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book gave me the "feels". My heart is so overwhelmed with emotions right now. My head is also spinning with so many questions. This book T.T I guess I have "this calling" to read books about physics. They are just so touching I promise you. This book is about physics,love and music. It is about how these things affects the main character and her relationships with the people seeing her. I love the plot and the characters. I didn't feel like hitting any of the characters nor did I get bored ...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 12+, younger YA audiences

Things I Liked:

The Fantastical, Beautiful Worldview of the MC: Ok, it may sound twee or just a little too magically realistic to have a character who legitimately believes that she sees pandas and moshes in a cafeteria. But honestly? It works because Sophie's visions are so delightful and interesting and you love her for having visions that involve cool things, like bands and dancing animals. And the other reason why it works is thing number two that I liked.

The Book Dealt With Mental Illne
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC that I received in exchange for an honest review!

Sophie Sophia, a high school sophomore, hallucinates-- spectacularly whimsical hallucinations involving singing, dancing, parades or animals that talk. She eventually meets Walt, her shaman panda in charge of helping her navigate this path of major confusion and concern. Her missing father, a brilliant physicist, disappeared a few years prior and also used to hallucinate. When she meets Finny, a fan of physics and
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing

*This is an ARC review.
Any excerpts or quotes are taken from an unfinished text and may change before the final print*

So freaking much to love about this book, you guys. Not going to lie: the first thing that hooked me was this phrase from above:

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties.

Look, I'm old. Like recently graduated from my third decade old (But I am still a firm believer that 40 is the new 20...) so ANYTIME 80s music, film, or pop culture is a theme in a book I am usu
Jen Ryland
In short: a 14 year old manic pixie dream girl tries to find her long lost father.

Sophia's mother struggled for years to deal with her crazy-brilliant physicist husband, and now Sophia is exhibiting the same odd symptoms. Sophia hallucinates -- wild, imaginative scenes involving talking pandas that pull her out of reality and into interludes that are like a combination of the movie Fantasia + an LSD trip + a movie musical production number.

I appreciate the way this book shows the emotional dest
Katy Noyes
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Teenage read with brains.
Quirky, yes - a teenager in a new town, unreliable but loving father who has left, has hallucinations (she calls them episodes) about giant pandas and the lunch ladies in school breaking into song.
It's all related to her brilliant physicist father, who also had episodes.
Sophie makes a friend, finds tentative love, and goes on a search for the missing father who she hopes has some answers about her episodes. And also has help from her shaman panda Walt.
There's a lot tha
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Theory of Everything is a delightful look into the soul and what it means to love and be loved. Fresh and original, this debut puts Kari Luna solidly on the map, reminding us that a book doesn't need to have death and violence to be a damn good story.

Sophie is an unusual girl, and she's had an unusual life. Her father, Angelino Sophia, is a theoretical physicist at NYU and is also an eccentric. Along with his passion for the world, he passes on to Sophie an odd condition: hallucinations, or "epi
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
Would recommend: Eh

For the life of me, I can not remember why I put this on my to-read list. I think wherever I read about it mentioned similarities (or a connection? or something?) to A Wrinkle in Time, but I have no idea. Well. This book is no Wrinkle, and it's probably grossly unfair for me to compare the two because the only common ties are a girl looking for a father and references to physics. The book is not bad. It tries so darn hard to be quirky and hip that it misses the mark on things
Mark Russell
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The thing I liked about The Theory of Everything is that it doesn't try too hard to be a young adult novel. It's very accessible, and yet, never panders or talks down to its audience. Luna casually drops references to quantum physics and 80's music and trusts young readers to keep up. Which, trust me, they can.

Luna's protagonist Sophie deftly navigates the alienation of being uprooted to a new school with the help of a few shaman pandas, while searching for her missing father. Witty and imagina
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, lol, new-york
The beginning of this book was kind of a nightmare of things I don't like in books. Annoying hipster character. Overuse of pop culture references. And I wasn't sure if her mom was being willfully ignorant of Sophie's mental disorder, or if it was supposed to be some kind of magical realism thing. There is also a gay BFF I thought was too much of a teen girl's dream of what a gay BFF would be like.

Then Sophie and said BFF go to New York and this book gets a lot better. I liked the string theory s
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am so grateful that Ms. Luna wrote this book about Sophie Sophia, a 14-year-old girl obsessed with 80s music who wears striped socks, sews pockets on her skirts, and occasionally, unwillingly slips between parallel universes. Ms. Sophia is guided by Walt, her shaman panda (a wonderful alternative to the sensitive English teacher found in many YA books), assisted by Finn, her fabulous gay best friend (because no teen girl can survive without one), and only slightly distracted by Drew, her Kerou ...more
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am totally in LOVE with this book!

I gave it FIVE STARS plus a mint on the pillow.

Mixtapes filled with 80's awesomeness, marching pandas and the theoretical physics of love make this story of abandonment, questionable mental illness and self-acceptance a truly fascinating journey.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book in a Little Free Library last year when I was bringing books for the box. It looked interesting. It had a lovely note inside: "You are a wonderful piece of this world. It would not be complete without you.❤" I registered the book on Bookcrossing - and I am planning to leave the note inside when I let this book go. I hope the next person who finds this book will like it.

My Review: Really amazing YA story. I would love to read something el
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I went into The Theory of Everything hoping that I'd find a charming, contemporary read that would make me smile. Of late, I've been reading a lot of paranormal books, and was kind of tired of them so wanted something that would do a complete 360*. Thankfully, that's exactly what I got from this book: while having quite a lot of scientific talk - physics, to be exact - I was utterly charmed by the main character, Sophie, and the cast of characters that surrounded her throughout her journey.

Ashley (Loves Books)
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist
***A version of this review will be posted to Ashley Loves Books at a later date.***

One of my main notes I wrote down was: Chaotic. There is a certain amount of chaos that permeates this entire book, and sometimes it was a little odd or hard to track; but at the same time, it really works and reflects the content well. This is about String Theory and parallel worlds and traveling across time and dimensions – I’d be a little more worried if it were straightforward and clear! Still I should warn t
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I jumped into The Theory of Everything. From the synopsis, it could have gone anywhere from « completely insane » to « not nearly as original as it pretends to be ». Luckily, the book fell comfortably somewhere in between the two extremes, offering a touch of magical realism that was still well grounded on Earth.

Reading The Theory of Everything put me in such a great mood! I’m not sure how to explain it. I appreciated Kari Luna’s humor, her colorful imagination,
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Nope, she’s not schizoid, not doing hallucinogenics. Sophie Sophia is an accidental tourist, popping between dimensions on the spur of the moment, whether she wants to or not.

One minute she’s walking home after school past the athletic field, and the next instant she is part of a panda marching band; or she’s in the school cafeteria with her Friday cheese pizza, when the lunch ladies break out in a cover of the Ramones’ “Rock n’ Roll High School.”

What’s happening? Sophia’s dad was a NYU theoret
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Theory of Everything is such a unique book and tempted me from the moment I heard about it. A young girl with her own shaman panda guide called Walt? It was too perfect to pass up.

Not only is Sophie Sophia a brilliant narrator but Kari Luna’s debut is packed full of wonderful characters. I don’t often come across a story where I care about everyone, from Finny (who I wish had been my friend in school), Walt and Peyton to Sophie’s mother. I wasn’t expecting to sympathise with Sophie’s mother
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Sophie Sophia and her mother left her father because he was a little crazy. But now Sophie is hallucinating like her father did and despite her best efforts to hide it, it's getting worse. So she takes a chance and tells her best friend and they decide to use physics to try to solve the problem behind her hallucinations so she doesn't go crazy.
At first, it was a great book. But then it goes a little weird. A little too much suspension of disbelief when you're trying to tie String Theory, traveli
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hmm. was a bit corny and all but it was a good read
i kinda hated the whole "ooh i listen to old rock bands and use a Walkman with mixtapes and i wear vintage clothes that i cut and style myself i'm so quirky and misunderstood!!" thing going on but since she's fourteen, i'll let it slide

also the whole thing about filling the holes in your heart and Panda-verses seemed a bit sketchy to me
Gabrielle (
It was quirky and original, yet so full of heart and spirit you’ll be wishing for a shaman panda of your own. Full review & giveaway at
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Theory of Everything was a reread for me. I read it a couple of years ago and I never written a review for it. So last Saturday I read the book again & I'm glad I did.

I really enjoyed reading The Theory of Everything. The main character Sophie is kind of a quirky girl who's new in town and has to deal with her missing father.
On top of that she sees things! I adore that Finny, Sophies friend, is accepting Sophie for who she is and helps her on her journey to find her father. I love that
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, favorites
Okay where to start!!
The cover is what ultimately grabbed me to pick up this book. I mean she's kissing a panda with two other pandas in the background. Who wouldn't want to find out what thats about. The story itself is adorable on so many levels. I'm a kid of the eighties so main character Sophie spoke to my soul. Mix tapes are what got me through the teenage angst of heartbreak. My only wish is that the author would have made her a little older. I felt she was more mature than her given age.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ehhh, this was okay. I didn't love it. Super quirky and offbeat, which I'm not really that into, but if you like that sort of thing you'll probably appreciate this book. I did really enjoy the world that Luna built, and the relationship between Sophie and her father was one of the most compelling parts of the story.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
It’s cute and saccharine sweet, like John Cusack in a John Hughes film. Unfortunately I’m more of a John Waters/John Carpenter kind of guy. This was recommended to me based on my raving about a handful of books I’d read that dealt with string theory and the multiverse, but they certainly didn’t involve Panda shamen and 80’s music.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
80s mixtape. travelling to other dimensions. making friends and finding love.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookshelf
I really enjoyed this quirky, yet uplifting story. As a retired teacher, I thought that Sophie and Finny were convincing teenagers.
Niña sucks at writing book reviews
Almost didn't finish this book. Nothing happened until maybe halfway or 3/4 in. I thought I would really like it with the whole whimsical stuff but...idk.
Bethany Ainsworth
I shelved it under realistic-fiction because Sophie's mom actually think Sophie is kind of mentally ill and she wants Sophie to get better. There's also Sophie's mom kicking out Sophie's dad due to his erratic behavior which Sophie's mom thinks is a sign of a dangerous man and wants to protect Sophie from him. Sophie's dad had gotten fired from his job because of his erratic behavior.

Moving on:

I think this book is interesting, that's for sure.

I only knocked a star off because of the whole physi
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
The pandas are coming…

Aww, aren’t they cute?

The Theory of Everything is one part 1980′s, two parts Donni Darko, three parts String Theory and four parts of adorable. A nice cool contemporary cocktail that suited my taste buds.

This is a coming-of-age story about a fourteen year old girl named Sophie Sophia. She’s a young girl stuck in the analog age, wears themed outfits, and loves 80′s music. She goes through things that a handful of teenagers her age go through: getting used to a new school, ma
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Kari Luna has seen the world from behind a Hammond Organ, through the lens of a commercial camera, and
from the top of a Swiss chalet. She writes stories, plays creative director, and eats apricots. She also covets cashmere sweaters, collects toys from the sixties, and thinks soul music is the cure for everything. In reality, (this one, anyway), Kari lives in Portland, Oregon where everyone, much t
“Realize you have awesome people around you who want to love you. Let them. Show them you love them back. (Actions trump words.) Do the forgiveness thing. If necessary-and it almost always is- do the forgiveness thing on yourself.” 10 likes
“Sometimes we just know things.” 9 likes
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