At first glance, Rocket Science might seem like a very short read at under 200 pages, but Jay Lake makes every word count. Set in a post-World War II Kansas, the novel starts off with a mundane premise but as one progresses through the book, Lake slowly adds an additional element of conflict so that by the time you reach the end, Rocket Science is a great novel about conspiracies, betrayal, family, friendship, and adventure.
Lake’s language is simple enough, yet is also reflective of the era he is trying to portray. No lyrical prose here or extravagant descriptions, but what you get is an easy to comprehend narrative. The strength of the book, however, is Lake’s characterization of our protagonist, Vernon. It is through his lens that we experience everything that is going on and while he is far from the perfect human being, this fact makes him quite sympathetic.
I’m not usually a big fan of novels that are American period pieces, but Rocket Science is quite an enjoyable read. There’s no padding here and every chapter has an intriguing moment that keeps you going. If you want a book that’s dark and gritty and realistic, this isn’t it. Rocket Science, I think, is one of those books that is reflective of a certain era and one is quite prepared for how everything gets resolved at the end. If you want a good, enjoyable read full of conspiracies and adventures in Kansas, one would do well to check out Rocket Science.
FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.