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Evidence of Things Not Seen

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When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published September 16, 2014

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About the author

Lindsey Lane

2 books5 followers
Lindsey Lane is an award-winning playwright, journalist, and author. She is the author of young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), picture book Snuggle Mountain (Clarion), and her short stories have been published in the literary journal, Hunger Mountain. She earned her BA in Theater Arts from Hampshire College and her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches regularly at Writers League of Texas, the Writing Barn, and is an adjunct professor at Austin Community College.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 130 reviews
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
July 28, 2014
What in the world...

This was really just a bunch of novellas about people either getting raped, beaten, or dying. POVs lasting for one chapter to never be visited again. It was weeeeird. Most stories/characters were not even related at all to the main storyline. Seriously! I don't get it!

Let's start at the beginning. A guy disappears, while learning a bit more about him we find out that he was convinced he could get to alternate dimensions, and we're led to believe that that's where he disappeared to. Everyone who knew him believes that as well, even the police question people about that as if they would actually be considering it. Okay, whatever. I can dig a sci-fi vibe in an otherwise contemporary novel. I loved Between the Lives recently, after all. The problem is that, this is all pointless in the grand scheme! There's a disappearance, and while that's the story that ties the book together - or it tries - it gets no progression or resolution AT ALL. Instead, we get thrown into mini stories lasting one chapter each of characters who are sometimes not even related to the disappearance whatsoever. For instance, one POV's only tie-in is due to a note she finds before she murders a guy, that Tommy must have dropped. The note is insignificant in every way, and not even interesting. It's just about how he gave his bike a name. Oookay. Another POV is about a girl who gets her sister's baby dropped on her lap so she can take off with some dirtbag she likes for some reason (but who knows? We've known her for 4 pages). Later, in another POV (there's like a trillion), we hear about this same girl being taken in by some other character. The end. It's all so irrelevant. It really is like novellas surrounding this one disappearance, related to each other by tiny, tiny threads.

And then there's the science blah blah. I enjoy through-provoking science chatter as much as the next, but this one was waaay confusing quantum physics mumbo jumbo. Also, surprisingly, quite dull - probably because it all had no point. It was just a way to bring up a science vs god debate which I have no patience for, frankly.

There were some things I liked. It's easily readable, and written mostly in dialogue of people being interviewed by the detectives, but we don't see the police's narration, only the characters' responses which I found kind of neat. I also found a few of the individual stories quite interesting - too bad those only lasted for one chapter - touching on topics from rape to abusive parents and alcoholism, to name a few. If a lot of these mini stories were turned into full novels I would buy these books! But mushed together into one novel is just random. Suffice it to say, the good didn't come close to making up for the rest of it.

In short: It's like this book just barfed a bunch of randomness and called it a day.


An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
July 24, 2014
Bell, Book & Candle | Evidence of Things Not Seen Review

I feel like I have been conned; a part of some bait-and-switch tactic by the author. I'll admit that I was initially intrigued by the cover (I've always been a sucker for an amazing book cover). Then I read the synopsis, and I was instantly a "easy mark" for Ms Lane, the author. Actually reading the book left me with one thought: what? That's it?

I'm all for the unknown, and I generally appreciate books that explore and take that direction. Nevertheless, the author seemed to be trying to achieve this element of mystery and illusion, without really grasping it; kind of like scratching the surface of a massive iceberg with a butter knife.

The story is comprised of a series of events told in either: first person, third person or third person omniscient. In between each event is a note the victim, Tommy, wrote. Granted, some of these stories are somehow interconnected; some are from left field figuratively. Almost all of them are ended abruptly like a door quickly slamming in your face. It left me confused about how it all tied together in the big picture.

The ending was anticlimactic and left me feeling a little miffed; I don't really like this book. While Tommy prattles on and on about multiple dimensions and possibilities...I wonder, can I get my 4 hours I wasted reading this book back?
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,540 reviews33.9k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
August 5, 2014
Disjointed, confusing, and rather bizarre. Each chapter is a different POV from someone often only tangentially related to the missing boy, and as far as I can tell you don't revisit any of those POVs again. It's hard to care about anybody when you only spend a few pages with them, and it's hard to get a feel for the overall mystery/care about the missing boy with this kind of structure, too. AND I really dislike when serious subjects like rape and abuse are just thrown into the plot without any real purpose or meaning.

Might work for some, but after 55 pages, I could tell this wasn't going to work for me.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
Profile Image for Paula.
Author 1 book212 followers
June 19, 2014
I was sent this book in a group of potential New Adult titles. I don't know what New Adult is. I thought I did, but apparently not.

But I don't think Evidence of Things Not Seen fits the category however it is sliced. The characters in it are juniors and seniors in high school. It's a mashup of quantum physics and...pain? There is a huge amount of really ugly parent-on-child or uncle-on-child violence, most of it sexual and the VAST majority of it aimed at girls. And I have read painful YA before, YA with rape and cutting and prostitution and whatnot, I have read J.T. Leroy and I can take it, but in this book it feels like voyeurism, feels like shock for shock's sake.

The book is constructed as a series of very tenuously-linked stories of individual teens, and inserting the one where an adult male says to a 13-year-old girl, "Get into your birthday suit and pour me a drink. I've got cherries to pop" is gratuitous. In another story, a boy is in love with a girl who has been abused by her uncle and cousin, and she thinks to herself, "Love. The word drips like the remains of semen down the back of her throat." That just made me forget whatever the story was about because a) gross and b) would you say... things... drip...?

Parenthetically - writing criticism of sexual content is difficult because it's not like you can run a sentence like that by your co-workers without seeming like you're assuming things about them that you totally would rather not know.

Anyway I don't want to review it. There are interesting ideas and moments of fine writing, but the rough stuff just jolts you right out of the larger story. The book doesn't hang together. And if this is what New Adult is, I'd rather not read any more of it.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews701 followers
June 15, 2014
I just don't have words for this book. It was one I was really excited for because I loved the synopsis. When I started reading it was just upsetting.

Right away, there's a character who is being forced to have sex with her uncle and cousin, but it must be okay because they tell her they love her and they're "real nice" afterwards. When her mom finds out, the girl is sent away for being a tease. Next there's a girl whose mom sells her for $1000 so she can have sex with a bunch of men. But don't worry, the mom gets her drunk first. And let's not forget the girl who forces sex on her male BFF because he's a guy so he automatically wants it. He even tells her "Replay that whole scene. Only this time, I'm forcing myself on *you*."

I don't know what any of it has to do with the story and the reoccurring assault was really disgusting to read. After about halfway through the book, I started skimmed to read the parts that pertained to Tommy -- which were few and far between.

The execution is interesting: telling the story from other people's POV as they're {mostly} getting interviewed by the police about Tommy's disappearance. In the end, there's no real answers and I was left with an icky feeling.

**Thanks to Farrar Straus Giroux and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Sam.
2,079 reviews32 followers
August 12, 2014
Huge thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) and Netgalley for this ARC!


I tried to like this book, honest. I thought the premise sounded so interesting and different from a lot of mystery novels, which is why I initially requested it. However, what this book really is, is a disjointed mess of prose thrown together in the attempt to weave a story together.

Tommy Smythe goes missing, and everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Everyone also has their own problems and issues to face, and each "character" if you can call them that has one chapter only to -- poof! Never hear from them again. Seriously, how is anyone supposed to connect with the mystery if they are a one shot character? It's a little tough to muster sympathy and sadness where there's not much to work with.

Furthermore, the stories in this book are either about rape, murder, abuse, etc, but it jumps around so much that you don't really get a chance to digest a lot of what you're reading, nor does the significance in adding these elements feel as important as they could. I think if this book had spent some time on developing characters, may be this would feel more important? I don't know. I just struggled to care about anyone (including Tommy) because there just isn't enough to work with. Actually, there's squat to work with.

This is a book wherein readers I feel will be wanting and expecting more than they will actually get. The ideas in this book are solid, but the execution of all of it just rubbed me the wrong way, making it difficult for me to find any enjoyment. The negatives just really out weighted any positives I could find, and I hate when that happens.
Profile Image for Brittany S..
1,403 reviews692 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
September 15, 2014
Started and then shortly thereafter, marked as DNF. Made it about 50 pages in and what in the world is this book. It's only 225 pages long so 50 pages in and we learn nothing about Tommy. Practically nothing except he was nerdy and into weird nerdy things. That about sums it up.
The different POVs in this book (I mean, as far as I made it) were just... weird. I don't mind heavy subjects and serious issues, but to throw in topics of sexual abuse like it was, and seemingly serving no purpose to the plot...? I mean, I didn't finish the book, but what purpose does this serve to tell the details about how a girl is abused by her cousin and her uncle and give explicit descriptions of things that she went through? I don't even know how she's connected to all of this... or anyone really.

Anyway. It may have gotten better if I kept reading but I felt totally taken by surprise at all of this intense content with no context at all how it related to Tommy. In fact, I don't even know who Tommy is.
This is a big issue with too many POVs too. Who are all these people and why do their stories relate? I'm not saying their stories don't matter because clearly they have stories to be told... But maybe they shouldn't have been told in this book. Maybe they need their own books because to tie this into the mysteries of Tommy's disappearance... it just didn't seem to fit.

This just really wasn't what I expected it to be and I just don't feel interested in continuing.
Profile Image for Read with Sandee ・❥・.
638 reviews1,304 followers
January 1, 2015
This is one crazy book.

Its told in alternating POVs, in both first and third person. Gaaawdddd... There were times that it is very confusing, but i loved how it was told. It was like you were watching a psychological thriller movie, only you were reading it. If that makes any sense.

Profile Image for CapesandCovers.
332 reviews41 followers
May 5, 2015
I tried to like this book, I really did. I even read almost half-way through before giving up and skimming over the remaining chapters. It's written from alternating perspectives and switched back and forth between first and third person perspectives.


This book doesn't really have a main plot, it's just a bunch of short stories that tie in from having an object related to Tommy, or sometimes even another previous short story. The main "plot" was tied together so thinly, it might as well have not existed. To put it bluntly, it was a huge mess.


Every single story had either some form of abuse, sexual assault or just pure stupidity. The fact that the only LGBT character was really kind of pissed me off. The girl couldn't even understand what she did wrong because she was "smart." Not everyone who's good at math or science is socially inept. This whole books was just full of cliched and stereotyped characters, that really had nothing to do with the missing boy. There were so many disturbing things in here, I felt disgusted that I had even read as much as I had.



The ending was not what I was hoping for either, since there really wasn't one. So I wasted all of those hours for nothing

Profile Image for Jeanette.
Author 7 books18 followers
April 17, 2014
This is a complex and thought-provoking story that is told from multiple points of view. It is a mystery, a coming of age story, and a compelling read. When Tommy Smythe disappears during his junior year in high school, some people think he ran away to find his birth parents while others think he is dead. Tommy was always a strange kid; he believes everything is possible until it is proven to be impossible, everything is true until shown to be false. He is also obsessed with particle physics so maybe he really did slip into a parallel universe. (Lane does a good job of succinctly explaining particle physics as part of the story.) The story alternates chapters between people who knew Tommy--family, friends, and teachers--and people who find objects of his. Lives intersect in interesting ways that lead to few answers. No spoiler intended (or given) but the ending was one of the most intriguing since The Giver.

The book will be a hit with teens, especially those who like science and mysteries, but it was also a good read for adults.
Profile Image for Carmen.
66 reviews
July 25, 2014
A powerful debut with rich, complex characters that you can't get out of your head.I found myself completely captivated with the disappearance of high school junior Tommy Smythe and eager to solve the mystery through the clues he left behind and the people that intersected his life.

This story has caused me to consider the impact my decisions and choices have on the people who surround me and intersect my life. How as Tommy said, "We leave pieces of ourselves everywhere. Every time we meet someone, they take some of us and we take some of them. That's how it is Little particles stick us together. Bit by bit. I think it's how we get whole."

It's a profound story that feels all too real about life, relationships, circumstances, and the choices we make. A honest look inside a rural diverse town and how people affect us in the smallest or biggest of ways.

An emotional bender that delivers.
Profile Image for Crystal.
449 reviews90 followers
July 21, 2014
I DNF this one. I got about 1/3 of the way through and then looked at a few reviews which uncovered that this book is full of short one chapter novellas that don't really tie into the overall storyline. I don't understand why this book was written like that and I just don't feel the need to find out. All the science stuff went over my head also and I just had to drop it.
Profile Image for Shae.
738 reviews169 followers
September 10, 2014
Originally reviewed at http://www.shaelit.com/2014/09/review...

A few weeks ago I tweeted about that feeling you get when you finish a book that you know is going to be a pain and a half to review. This is that book. Whether the book is good or not seems irrelevant at the moment, because I don't know how to get you through what this book is to make any kind of value judgment. I will say that it is definitely unlike most books I read.

The heart of the book, technically, is Tommy Smythe, a boy obsessed with quantum physics and parallel universes who abruptly goes missing right before prom. I say technically because while Tommy is the subject of practically every page, he never actually appears on the page. He is one of our many narrators through the found scraps of his journal, but his writing is a discussion that he has with himself, not with us the audience.

If you include Tommy, this book follows a total of twenty-two people. Roughly half are told in third-person POV as we follow them through their lives, while the other half are first-person as the narrators give their accounts of Tommy to the local Sheriff. I guess, now that I think about it, the Sheriff could be viewed as another contributor, though he is never seen or heard in the book. The sheriff acts as our portal into the investigation, a window linking us from our world to the inner workings of the town after Tommy's disappearance.

Huh. I think Tommy would like that, seeing the Sheriff as a portal. That's the thing about this book. Once you get into it, you start making connections everywhere. Everything links back to physics and universes, to perception, possibilities, probabilities, and reality. Some of this effect comes from deliberate calculation on the author's part. We only ever meet each character once, but they flow in and out of each other's stories like the tide through a grate. Once you spot the lines spiraling through each narrative, it almost becomes a game to spot familiar faces in the oblique asides of the current narrator. As the characters dance in and out of view, we get a unique amalgam of facts and opinions that we can then use to shape our view of them, much as we must do to get a picture of Tommy, our absent subject.

Of course, I suspect some of the eagerness to make connections simply comes back to being human. Human beings are notorious for drawing conclusions and finding patterns where there are none. Then again, Tommy might argue that everything is connected—if not here, then in another universe where our choices have spun off into radically different outcomes. In the book, Tommy's classmates posit that Tommy's obsession with parallel universes may have allowed him to cross over into one, and that's why he's missing. The authorities take the more traditional view that Tommy was kidnapped and/or murdered. What he is is, in fact, irrelevant until his state is proven. The science was a bit murky for me (it's quantum physics, after all), but from what I gathered, Tommy was Schroedinger's cat. Until someone could prove where he was and what happened, he was simultaneously in all places and in all states of being. And once someone does narrow down his state to one defined outcome, then all of the probabilities and possibilities of the universe converge into a single point that we call reality. But only in this universe. In the other universes, Tommy is alive/dead/in yet another universe/riding his motorbike with Rachel/at prom/at home with his parents, etc. It's a trippy concept, I know, but also surprisingly beautiful.

Once you get partway through this book, I stopped making assumptions entirely. I mean, how can you assume one particular outcome when all of the possibilities are still in play somewhere in the multiverse? Yes, in this universe, in the universe inhabited by a grieving Mr. and Mrs. Smythe and questioning Sheriff Caldwell, some probabilities are much higher than others. But I mean, honestly. I can't even decide what genre to classify this thing as. Is it magical realism? There are talk of ghosts, disappearing kids, and plant whisperers who "see things." That seems like magical realism. But quantum physics... that's science. So are parallel universes and probabilities and Higgs-Boson particles. So is this sci-fi? At what point is magic really science? Is it magic because we don't understand it? That's a commonly held sci-fi trope, that magic is really science we just don't understand, but some things might be truly unexplainable, right? So which is this? Is it science or magic?

As you can tell, I was pretty fascinated by the premise of this book, but that's not to say that the execution was without its flaws. For one, it can be difficult to keep track of who's who with such scene fluidity. The text makes an effort to keep us in the loop, but characters will naturally refer to other characters by different names (first name, last name, description, nickname, "that guy," etc.), which can make the people hard to follow. Within the narrations, there was some sloppiness as well. For instance, at one point we follow a student named Marshall in his plan to woo his friend Leann. Within a paragraph, we're jolted from Marshall's perspective to Leann's and back again with no warning or even an acknowledgement that the shift happened. In all the other narratives, switches in perspective are rare and clearly defined. Also, since we never heard the sheriff's side of the conversation, the first-person narrators had to do all the heavy lifting. This lead to awkward, unrealistic sentences where they would repeat back chunks of what the sheriff just said, like actors giving a scripted interview.

My biggest problem is that some of the segments were flat-out gross. Abusive parents, an on-page rape, a joke about having sex with fruit, a teen hooker, murder, incest, drugs, drinking, suicide—this book has it all. Some may argue that this is "realism." After all, we're following people, and these are real things that happen to real people, so why not? My arguments are as follows:

1) Just because something is real doesn't mean I want to read about it. I really, really, really do not want to read about a girl whose mom Fancied her out at age 13, okay? And as a reader, I am totally allowed to say nopety nope nope.

2) There is such a thing as too much. A person can have dramatic, fiction-worthy problems without being disgusting, you know.

3) To me, some of the scenes genuinely had no point. What was the point of that hooker? What did she contribute to the narrative? Her only tie to Tommy was that she found one of his belongings. She had never met him. She had no insight to give. And though her actions affected others in later narratives, the cause of her actions could have been easily changed. What was the point of Izzy and Alex's tete-a-tete? Or the conversation between Alvin and Jake? BLECK. At this point, some may argue that there is no point to reality because reality is the point and it all just issssss, to which I call crap. This is not reality. This is fiction, which means those who create it make deliberate choices regarding what enters the world, and they are choices that need to be justified.

So do you see my dilemma? I came out of this book in two frames of mind. On the one hand, I was blown away by the author's talent. The way the narratives and plot worked together so cohesively is fantastic. This is the kind of book that you can chew on long after you put it down. It's literary and deep and beautiful. Fantastic. Four stars. On the other hand, my brain can't chew indefinitely because it keeps getting a mouthful of the unnecessary ickiness floating throughout. Bleckity bleck bleck. One-half star.

Huh. How interesting that a book all about probabilities would push me into such an uncertain position. Since LibraryThing and Goodreads require a rating, I suppose I'll have to settle eventually, but for you, dear reader, the possibilities are endless.

Favorite Non-Spoilery Quotes:
Looking at the birds together in the same moment was the conversation. I mean, if you're with a guy who is thinking that each person, each thing contains waves of possibilities and those possibilities might exist in alternate dimensions, then you can kind of see how being together seeing the same thing at the same time is a pretty big deal.

He would get tripped up in simple conversation. When I'd leave the art room and I'd say something like, "See you next time." Instead of saying, "Okay," he'd say, "What next time?" It's like he had to be superliteral about everything because he was thinking in so many different dimensions. So if I said something casual or unspecific, it caused like static in his brain and he had to stop and tune the channel.

Tara looks up at the blanket of stars. She wonders, if one exploded, would all the other stars wobble in their orbit? ... That's how death is. It turns your world up side down. It makes what was real seem unreal. It pulls you out of normal. Makes you do things you've never done before. Like sit outside in the middle of the night with a bag full of your dad's ashes. When someone dies, your whole orbit changes.

Points Added For: Some really on-point observations regarding an abuser's claim that they "couldn't help it," quantum physics, beautiful prose, connections.

Points Subtracted For: Some sloppiness within the narratives, a slow start, nastiness.

Good For Fans Of: "Issues" contemporaries, magical realism, possibilities, philosophical musings.

Notes For Parents: Language, incest, making out, sex, rape, murder, pedophilia, child abuse, drinking, drugs, domestic abuse, suicide.

Note: I received a review copy of this title from the publisher for review consideration.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Profile Image for Jon.
599 reviews629 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 28, 2014
Seen at Bookish Antics!
I quit this book after 20% or so because I just can’t seem to strike up any interest in this novel. There are so many point-of-views in this short novel, none of which are all that interesting to me. What I’ve read of this novel just doesn’t flow right because each POV adds another side-story and none of them really connect. The reviews aren’t encouraging either, several friends have of mine were disappointed by this one and I see no reason for me to continue this one.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
October 6, 2014
This is a did not finish review.

Unfortunately, this book was not for me. It could be my mood, but I was not able to get into it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for a review copy of this book.
Profile Image for joey (thoughts and afterthoughts).
139 reviews142 followers
August 21, 2015
[See the full review at thoughts and afterthoughts.]

Rating: 2.25/5
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
- Open, interpretative narratives about the realities of life masked behind the mystery of Tommy’s disappearance. Some are coming-of-age stories with limited scope, others are charming tales of family, but they’re all uniquely independent lives with tangible difficulties
– Twenty very different narrators joined by the six-degrees of separation to Tommy Smythe; reads like a collection of short stories
– A quick, well-paced read despite a variety of darker societal issues that may not be explored in much depth (i.e. child and teenage sexuality, mental health disabilities, science versus religion, murder, physical and substance abuse)

Initial Thoughts:

I’m stumped as to how to go about saying anything about this novel. It’s different; twenty POVs different, and there’s a certain disjointed connectedness (wait, that doesn’t even make sense does it?) about this read that’s mind-bogglingly weird and interesting at the same time.

Also, I just reviewed the synopsis and I’m confused as to whether or not there’s supposed to be a name change or not (re: Particles, in the last paragraph).

Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of Evidence of Things Not Seen through Netgalley for an honest review. I extend thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) under Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me the opportunity to review this book.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.

January 6, 2018
This book was a good idea but not well done. It’s really interesting in theory, but it was all over the place! I HATED how all the characters were sooo stereotyped. If I saw the word geek one more time I was going to die. There were no interesting or surprising dynamics about these characters and the main character is what.. a robot?? This was just a read to take a breather between long books. I wasn’t expecting much so i can’t say I’m disappointed. This idea rewritten with a few changes.. I’d be all for it.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,650 followers
November 11, 2014
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

One thing I can say for certain is that Evidence of Things Not Seen is like no book I’ve read before. It’s not often I can say that, but I love when it happens. Even when I don’t like the book, I’m sort of awe-struck by the books that manage to be completely original. Also, I’m generally gaping because they’re really strange, and I’m curious how anyone ever came up with that idea. Lindsey Lane’s debut is like that. I enjoyed it the whole way through and was impressed, but I also don’t feel like I entirely understood it. To me, Evidence of Things Not Seen feel like it reads more like a collection of short stories than a cohesive novel.

This book is WEIRD. I really can’t say that enough. Evidence of Things Not Seen is about the disappearance of a boy called Tommy Smythe, who was obsessed with the idea of parallel universes, but it’s also not about him at all. Sure, we get a picture of Tommy from other people’s accounts, but it’s actually about the other people and not him. The book alternates between first person accounts, one side of questioning by the police as they investigate, and third person sections about people who find something Tommy left behind. That latter connection I mostly got through the blurb, because, honestly, I wasn’t always sure that they found something of Tommy’s. Like, I guess the comic book Maricela found used to be Tommy’s? I don’t know. As I said, I didn’t entirely get this one. The first and third person switches were initially quite jarring, but I fell into the pace of it.

The first person sections present a portrait of Tommy. We learn about each person’s perspective on Tommy, all united in some aspects but with their own personal twists and theories. What was most interesting to this part was seeing the way each person reacts to disappearance. There are a whole host of assumptions that people make, like whether being disappeared for weeks equals dead or not. Lane has a serious talent for narrative voice, because there are twelve different first person perspectives in this book and they were all very distinct. That is impressive like whoa.

The third person chapters rarely have anything whatsoever to do with Tommy, aside from a momentary reflection in some cases about the found item, though those sometimes feel a bit forced, as in the case of Karla. These really feel like short stories and they’re good ones. What you should prepare for, though, is how incredibly dark and edgy they are. One of them includes incest. Another child prostitution and murder. Yet another involves physical abuse. If that’s not enough dark stuff for you, don’t worry because there’s also a story where a girl rapes her best friend. So yeah. This book is heavy. The scenes are also pretty graphic. I’m actually really impressed that this book got picked up and published.

I did like most of the chapters a lot, but I struggle majorly with the point of the book. There are these snippets of Tommy’s journal between chapters and I feel like the point is somewhere in there with all the science, but damn am I bad at science. I’m probably supposed to have an opinion on the overarching plot, but I really don’t. I’m not all that interested in Tommy, because I’ve never met him. I’m much more interested in learning the resolution of Izzy’s plot line than where Tommy’s gone, though I’d like to know both if I could. I guess I feel like I’m not smart enough for this book in some respects, sort of like I felt about Charm and Strange.

A lot of people probably are not going to like Evidence of Things Not Seen. It’s dark and risky and confusing and open-ended. It wasn’t a perfect read for me, but it is one that has me taking notice. I’ll most definitely be watching Lane’s career, because one thing’s for sure: this woman can write.
Profile Image for Danielle.
56 reviews41 followers
January 25, 2019
VIDEO REVIEW OF THIS BOOK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZNov...

I am just... so confused after finishing this book. Part of it may be a bit of a mind-fog I'm in due to being sick, but I just have so many questions. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a book that makes you think and leaves you pondering, but here I was left wondering if there was even a plot to this book. It seemed like a nice idea at first, telling the stories of people in a town in Texas through their individual prose, reminding me of Spoon River Anthology which I read in high school. Unlike Spoon River, the characters in this book seemed to have little connection to one another, save for Karla and Tara, and Tim, Izzy, and Rachel. I was just confused as to why some characters were included because they didn't seem to relate to the overall plot of finding out where Tommy disappeared. I feel like if this book had the original intention of being like Spoon River and showing the people of a town then I might have enjoyed it better. But I expected there to be more about Tommy's whereabouts.

Not only did a lot of the stories not connect to one another, but many of the short stories were quite tragic, but I felt I could not connect to them. Oh yea sidenote, this book deals with rape and prostitution. I feel like most of these characters are forgettable. For some, as soon as I was done reading their story and moved on to the next person, I had already forgotten their name.

I will say I liked the clippings from Tommy's notebook, as we got to actually see into his psyche. But many of the characters who talked about him seemed to say the same thing: he's strange, he's obsessed with quantum mechanics, thinks very literally, and has a motorbike named Ruby. Additionally, they just told the reader about Tommy, but didn't really paint a picture of him, the journal entries were much more helpful in that.

This book just felt so unsatisfying in its conclusion, as if we had gone in a massive circle to where we were in the beginning. The ending tried to end on a philosophical note, which don't get me wrong like I said before I enjoy books that make me think, but I felt a lot of the philosophy was lost on me and went over my head. Again, my head cold might have something to do with that too. Might I mention that it also took me forever to get through this book, even though it's only about 200 pages? I really had to push myself to finish this one. Overall, not a great read.
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,336 reviews73 followers
August 1, 2014
EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN is more a collection of short stories than it is a novel. Each of the chapters features a different character and most of them are connected in some way to the disappearance of high school junior Tommy Smythe. They went to school with him; they saw him around town riding his motorbike named Ruby. We learn quite a bit about Tommy through many of these other characters. The one think we don't learn is what happened to him.

Through each chapter we learn about the lives - mostly unhappy - of many characters. The chapter that made my cry was the one about Frank and Stella who had been married for more than 60 and who were now losing each other because of Stella's Alzheimers. Then there was the chapter about the young girl forced into prostitution by her own mother who thinks she finds love and is betrayed. Or the chapter about the abused mother and son who finally decided to leave their abusing husband and father on Christmas.

Some happier chapters include the one where migrant worker Maricela finds a home with an older woman who lives alone on her farm. Or the story about Chuy that ends the book about a young man moving north to find work and a new life.

This book was lyrically written and very thought-provoking. Fans of descriptive language will enjoy this story the most.
Profile Image for Jackie.
835 reviews154 followers
June 8, 2014
Thank you publisher and Netgalley for granting me a copy to review. In no way did this influence my opinion.
More reviews on No Bent Spines

First off, those two stars mean nothing. In reality I really don't know what to think of this book. Full review to come ~

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN starts with a boy who lives in his head, takes everything all too seriously, but is content- happy even- missing. Nobody knows where he went. I mean, sure everyone has their theories. Along the books ‘plot’ people begin to find things that this boy lost. They connect this to their own life and in a way, they use these as hope and shape their own reality.

Now what I thought of the book. I honestly don’t think much. I wasn’t entertained as much as I had hoped I would be. There wasn’t a real plot. I was wondering where he was the entire book and we never really heard anything from his point of view. It was all from people who had seen, knew or found things he had lost. It was interesting to see how everything connected but this book really couldn’t keep me interested.

Overall, sadly, this book isn’t going to find a place in the books I want to recommend or books I plan to read again.

Profile Image for Angie.
1,204 reviews130 followers
August 4, 2015
When I read the blurb of Evidence of Things Not Seen, I was quite excited. Disappearances, particle physics and parallel universes are themes bound to attract my attention, but, sadly, I was quite disappointed. Tommy Smith disappears, maybe into one of the alternate dimensions he believed in, and a whole lot of people confess that, yes, he was weird but likable.

Firstly, I don't even see this as a novel but rather a collection of short stories centered round a specific setting and basic plot. Because all the characters make one or, if you're lucky, two appearances, I simply couldn't identify with anybody.

The theme of rape and abuse, especially aimed at women, seems to repeat itself over and over until I felt like this book was only reflecting the negative side of life.

Fortunately, the individual stories - some in first person and some in third - were told in an entertaining and often captivating way. The characters in each section are adequately developed and descriptions are vivid and lifelike.

The end is more or less satisfying.

This is a worthwhile read if you're into really sad and often violent personal accounts of rape, drug abuse, ruined marriages and general unhappiness. Do not expect much in the way of paranormal. (Ellen Fritz)
Profile Image for Laurie Thompson.
Author 9 books89 followers
October 15, 2014
This is one of those novels that will stick with you for a long, long time. Many of the individual stories surrounding the disappearance of teenager Tommy Smythe from a small town are still rattling around my heart and mind, as is the interconnected whole and its themes of fate/destiny, choice/self-determination, coincidence/luck, and how our lives overlap with those of others around us in so many known and unknown ways. Unflinching in its examination of the darker sides of human nature, I highly recommend it for those readers mature enough to handle its gripping honesty. It will certainly leave them with something to think about.
Profile Image for Joshua McCune.
Author 3 books43 followers
March 30, 2014
Told from multiple POVs (20), this unique, superbly written novel revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a physics boy-genius likely suffering form a case of Asperger's. Beautiful, complex, and honest, this wonderful debut interweaves storylines full of intrigue, emotion, and murder with fundamental matters of the not seen (faith and science blended subtly and masterfully). Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Samantha Clark.
Author 7 books91 followers
January 26, 2015
Love the characterizations in this book. It's a different type of story, almost vignettes that are linked with a thread of a missing boy. Each vignette has different characters, and sometimes the actions of some characters affect other characters in future vignettes. It's like a study of stories around a road pull-out, and Lindsey Lane is a master at showing us who these characters are. I look forward to more books by her.
Profile Image for Sol.
2 reviews
December 12, 2021
Evidence of things Not Seen is an incredible novel which combines the stories of so many diverse characters. This book is heart-wrenching and intriguing, and will make you re-evaluate your perspective of reality. Choosing to read this could not have come at a more poignant time in my life. Thank you Alyssa the Reader for loaning me this gem; sorry for keeping it so long.
Profile Image for Aida.
161 reviews24 followers
September 21, 2014
One star for the book and one for the old couple's story. I don't even think this should be considered a novel. It felt more like a bunch of short stories and I only liked one of them.
Profile Image for Jenn .
110 reviews3 followers
June 20, 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review for Lone Star Literary Life.

Going into Evidence of Things Not Seen, I was expecting a good mystery and a captivating story. I knew the narration was told from multiple perspectives, so I was a little wary because it's such a difficult thing for a writer to successfully pull-off. Author Lindsey Lane pulled it off and made it easy to keep up with the different narrators.

As I delved in to the story, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued with the many characters in the life of the missing boy, Tommy. Each chapter gives something different to the reader, with side stories, information regarding Tommy's disappearance, interactions with Tommy before his disappearance, and possible theories about where he is and whether he's alive.

For me, the side stories were so well-written that I found them more interesting than the overall mystery. Lane's characterization was excellent. Her writing made me feel like I knew these teens, and I wanted to find out more about what happened to them and wonder now about how they are doing. I wanted to know more about how they encountered Tommy when he was around. I wanted to soak up as much of these characters as I could.

I would consider this a New Adult book rather than YA. There is material here that is definitely too mature for some teens. The story went into graphic detail that I could have done without and that I definitely feel younger readers don't need. Just because those realities may exist in the world doesn't mean readers need them described in detail. To Lane's credit, as disturbing as the scenes were, they were all incredibly written.

For readers who need closure in their endings, Evidence of Things Not Found; it's not that kind of story. I can make my peace with the ending because it is a reflection of how things happen in real-life -- we don't always get the answers we want or need.

Overall, I'd recommend to all of you to give this one a try. It's definitely worth the read and it's very thought provoking. Four stars.
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