Special Topics in Calamity Physics is the debut novel from 27 year old author Marisha Pessl. Generating a lot of buzz for its erudite style and its original plotting, it has its own playful website, with links to the Friendster and MySpace sites of its characters.
Liesl Schillinger's very positive review in The New York Times may send you scurrying to place a hold on this book.
The joys of this shrewdly playful narrative lie not only in the high-low darts and dives of Pessl’s tricky plotting, but in her prose, which floats and runs as if by instinct, unpremeditated and unerring. A forgettable man is casually summarized as “an extra packet of salt one misses at the bottom of a bag of fast food”; teachers at Blue’s school have “the kind faces of mice”; lonely days “shuffled by like bland schoolgirls”; and a boy’s voice is “stiff as new shoes.” From time to time, arresting aperçus interrupt the flight, a reminder that even a glittering creature knows about the dark. “When it comes to certain human miseries, the only eyewitnesses should be the pavement and maybe the trees,” Gareth tells the young Blue. A decade later, when she is forced to confront one of these miseries — a woman her father has spurned — she thinks, “there were few things in the world more horrific than the adult weep.”