The Rosie Project
Sometimes when I read a book, I know immediately it’s going to be made into a movie. It may be a creative, eerie, beguiling setting (like The Night Circus). Or exciting, crazy action (like The Hunger Games). Or just a really great story (like Matilda).
With The Rosie Project, I didn’t have to read the book to know a movie was coming. All I needed to read was the blurb (from Goodreads):
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
The blurb screams rom-com. It’s As Good as It Gets all over again.
And then there’s the official book trailer:
Notice that no faces are shown—the characters’ embodiments must be kept vague until the movie stars playing them are revealed! (As it turns out, there may be some truth to this—Sony Pictures acquired the movie rights before the book was even released in the U.S.)
So, obviously, I knew what I was getting into when I started this book: complete fluff destined for the big screen (which is exactly what I wanted–I felt like I deserved it after reading The Orphan Master’s Son).
The blurb gives you the basics. The main character, Don, is extremely socially awkward. Presumably, he has Asperger’s or some other autism spectrum disorder (it is never explicitly stated). Not surprisingly, therefore, he doesn’t have much luck in the lady department. So, he sets out to fix that the way a scientist with Asperger’s would: he creates a fool-proof questionnaire to weed out all of the undesirable qualities in a woman:
A purpose-built, scientifically valid instrument incorporating current best practice to filter out the time wasters, the disorganized, the ice-cream discriminators, the visual-harassment complainers, the crystal gazers, the horoscope readers, the fashion obsessives, the religious fanatics, the vegans, the sports watchers, the creationists, the smokers, the scientifically illiterate, the homeopaths, leaving, ideally, the perfect partner or, realistically, a manageable short list of candidates.
But remember: this is a rom-com, so fate has to throw a wrench in Don’s plans! Enter the “totally unsuitable” Rosie.
Can she crack Don’s unemotional façade and convince him to abandon his strict love guidelines? Can Don fall for someone who doesn’t follow a rigid schedule? Can Rosie love someone so regimented and quirky?
Rating: 2.5/5 📑
This book is exactly what you would expect it to be: silly, utterly unrealistic, and completely mediocre. The writing is unremarkable. Don’s idiosyncratic voice is occasionally funny (to get a feel for it, you can read an excerpt here). The characters are eccentric and likeable.
If you’re looking for a summer beach read, this fits the bill. It’s as mindless and happy-go-lucky as any chick flick.
Who should read it: If you love romantic comedies (the cheesier and cutesier, the better), then this is the book for you.