The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi


“I’m sure you hate me now, a little. This is not meant to be easy. I made finding things difficult, not for you, but for myself. Like an alcoholic who locks the booze in the basement and throws away the key. But you are here, so it wasn’t enough.”

It’s been a while (cue) hasn’t it? I decided it was about time for another review and good thing I just finished a book. Don’t know what else I would review. Most movies are bad without me telling you. Except for Looper. Go watch that film. It’s amazing.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about my intro into Science Fiction, and I warn you, do not enter with this book. On top of that, this review has spoilers because I hate to vaguely talk about plot points that you’ll never understand.

So that means I’m pulling a Hannu, throwing you into the deep end, never once explaining all these made up words that deal with quantum physics. I mean, isn’t everyone one of those?

Character development has its fallacies as well. Only the three POV characters feel like they have any semblance of characteristics. You have Jean, the charming gentleman thief. Mieli is the hardass woman fighter; a vengeful zealot if you will. And Isidore is the analytical detective tasked with catching the two. Sometimes things fall into his hand. Something things fall into everyone’s hand. But their hands are not rounded, if you understand.

See, Isidore and Jean feel like Sherlock and Lupin. But that’s not a very apt description, just what I feel the author was going for. Isidore deduces things from the smallest of details and sometimes we are left completely clueless as to how he figured it out. Take for instance when he found out the chocolatier’s death, the very first mystery of the story. I had no clue what happened and how Isidore found the killer. It goes back to Hannu throwing you in the deep end.

Jean on the other hand, is much closer to Lupin, maybe a lighter and nicer shade of Locke Lamora. He’s not necessarily flamboyant, as the blurb proclaims him to be. But he still has that charm and unreliable narrator that made me love his parts.

When it came to Mieli, though, I thoroughly detested her pieces. She’s what you might call a female Stark from Sandman Slim. Hannu tried to show her as a disciplined warrior who’s off kilter because her lover’s been stolen and she has to be put through hell by dealing with this narcissistic thief.

But she came off as an angry woman. You know what I’m talking about.

From reading this, you might assume I hated the book. On the contrary. I loved it, if only because the plot was amazing. Yes, I’m excusing the lack of character development for pacing and plot. Don’t worry, it makes up for itself.

The twists come at you hard and fast. Jean is an unreliable narrator, as mentioned above. This makes for some interesting cons, both to suspecting and unsuspecting targets. Grisham tried to do this in his book The Racketeer, but Hannu does a much better job, if only because he added interludes to fill in the needed backstory.

And the intro was pretty amazing.

“As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk.”

Some twists, like the relationships Isidore has with, say Jean being his father and Pixil dying, didn’t have as much punch as they should’ve. But the very last twist, one that holds you until the very last sentence, was breathtaking, spine-chilling. The Pelligrini plotting revenge was masterful, if I do say so myself.

And still, Jean’s personality is what kept me liking the book. The odd words didn’t help, and if it wasn’t for Wikipedia dedicating a page to the made up words, I might’ve struggled more because this story makes you think. In a good way, of course.

“Fighting a cabal of planetary mind-controlling masterminds with a group of masked vigilantes—that’s what life should be all about.”

Read over that quote again, see that it makes more sense on a reread. And that’s what you’re facing in this book. The artistic premise is outstanding, but when it comes to a mystery, you can only truly experience the story once without it falling into boredom territory.

With this being my first venture in Sci-Fi, I can say I’ll be coming back, both for new stories and the second book in this series, The Fractal Prince. Because I think Hannu has stolen his place at number one.

Rating: 7/10

4 thoughts on “The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

  1. I’m curious – what made you decide to read this as your first sci-fi? Most people I know have started with the classics – Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, etc – while I hadn’t ever heard of this one before reading your review.

    • I’ve read some good reviews about the plot, and that’s one thing I look for in a book. Add in a thief and you’ve got me hooked. Plus, there’s been references to Sherlock Holmes and Locke Lamora, two of my genre heroes.

      Truth be told, I read some of Baxter a few months ago, but never made it past the first 100pgs. Found his style to boring.

      I’ve fiddled with the genre, but this is the first Sci-fi book I’ve actually finished.

      • I’m glad you didn’t give up on sci-fi altogether and that you ended up finding something you enjoyed 🙂 You might think about trying The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford next, if you’re looking for some sci-fi. It reminds of your description of this book both because the author throws you into the deep end and because of the literary references, And I might have to try this one, since your review makes it sound so good!

  2. I would probably recommend Jasper Fforde’s the Big Over Easy, rather than the Eyre Affair. The latter’s a good book, but it wasn’t as fun as reading the Big Over Easy. I suggest you try Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, though. One of my all-time favorite books, honestly. Told in first person. I think you’d like it.

    Cool review.

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