Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Love and Other Unknown VariablesLove and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander
Published by: Entangled Teen on October 7, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Book Details
Rating: ★★★½

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

Love and Other Unknown Variables is a tough one for me to review. It had a lot of pros and cons. I guess there were two big cons for me:

Things I didn’t like

I wasn’t sold on Charlie and Charlotte’s relationship.

I never felt like I got to know Charlotte that well. I think maybe the problem is that Charlotte was actually Charlie’s sister’s friend. So Charlie was rarely hanging out with Charlotte, it was more like Charlie was in his house minding his own business and Charlotte would be there (hanging out with his sister). But since we only saw her indirectly like that, I never really connected with her or felt like I knew her. But then Charlie would be going totally gaga for her and practically foaming at the mouth. I just couldn’t relate that well. For most of the book, all we really hear about Charlotte are things like:

I pull a box of cereal from the pantry, trying—and failing—to ignore the flickering light from the TV in the family room. But then Charlotte laughs, and I’m done for. Attracted to her laughter like a month drawn to the TV’s soft light, I drift into the family room.

As a result, [Charlotte] (and her tempting long legs) have practically moved into my house

I guess what I’m trying to say is that a lot of Charlie’s attraction was based on just how awesome her smile/laugh/legs were. Yes they had a few moments talking together, but it seemed like most of the time he was just staring at her and drooling.

I wasn’t on board with the whole “terrorize Ms. Finch” plan.

I honestly thought the reasoning was kind of weak. Basically Charlotte is Ms. Finch’s sister and Ms. Finch is the English teacher at Charlie’s school. Charlotte approaches Charlie and says, “Can you make her life a living hell at school? Because if she’s distracted with you, she’ll pay less attention to me at home and I could use the break.” (paraphrasing) Does that sound like weak reasoning to anyone else?

And the things they did to Ms. Finch were really mean. Her papers were glued together, a stink bomb was thrown in her house, a fetal pig was planted in her classroom, etc. There were some really mean things and I couldn’t even get behind the reason for them. It seemed stupid. I just felt bad for Ms. Finch!

Things I did like

Wow this book is nerdy.

It was pretty awesome! I loved how math, engineering, and general nerdiness were so woven into the story. It was so fun! It really made me want to be friends with all the characters.

True sign of a geek: my heart just stuttered at the idea of taking time away from school.

Engineer? I stare at her for a second longer before looking at my pitiful wall. Of course it’s falling down. I’m just grabbing at stones and stacking them, but if I were to apply some geometry and basic physics, adjust the angle of the stack, and add some drainage to reduce internal pressure… My brain starts to race as I pull down the bit of wall I’ve already built. I run to the car for paper and a pencil to sketch a plan.

“We’re going out,” James says, grabbing his sweatshirt.
“Where?” I ask.
James stops in the middle of tugging his sweatshirt over his head. “Good question,” he says, muffled from inside the fabric. Pulling his head out he asks, “Where do teenagers go, and why don’t we know this?”

The relationship did grow on me

Although I never felt like I knew Charlotte that well, her relationship with Charlie did grow on me towards the end.. maybe in the last 30%. Charlie and Charlotte finally started to talk more and spend more time together just one-on-one.

Mrs. Dunwitty was one of my absolute favourite characters.

She’s this funny old, grumpy lady who tells it like it is. Always.

“Those are the ugliest fucking flowers ever. Where did you steal those? You better have stolen them. Please do not tell a dying woman you paid good money for those crappy excuses for roses. Didn’t I teach you anything? Get them out of here.”

I love how her relationship with Charlie developed throughout the book.

Good, but not great

I can definitely say that I liked this book. Towards the end, it may even became a little un-put-downable. But there were a few things that really prevented me from enjoying the book more, which was a bummer. Also, the formatting on my eARC was sooo messed up. It almost hindered my enjoyment of the actual story, which sucks. Every single page was like this:

Love and Other Unknown Variables eARC

There were huge blank spaces, completely blank pages, and every chapter beginning had some kind of pattern on it and I would have to turn the page three times to get to the actual text. My Kindle even crashed once!

After I finished the book, Entangled was kind enough to send out a new copy with better formatting. Props to them for listening to our formatting rants! 😉

Aaaanyway. I did enjoy the book and it definitely got better towards the end. I just wish I was more into the romance, and I thought the pranking was kind of stupid.

The Verdict


Photo of Ashley
I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

Don't miss my next post!

Sign up to get my blog posts sent directly to your inbox (plus exclusive store discounts!).

You might like these


  1. I loved this book! I loved the nerdyness and Charlie. OH CHARLIE, I LOVE YOU. The formatting was so annoying, I agree, although once I got on to Entangled they sent me a new one so I (thankfully) got to read the new version, which was way better.

    I loved Mrs Dunwitty. She was so awesome!

  2. Oh my gosh, I think this is the perfect book for me. I am taking Engineering and all around me are boys, how do I find a Charlie??? Lol, kidding. I like the sound of the nerdiness and the association of math, physics etc books like that make my heart race >w< Totally buying this! So glad that you still enjoyed this even though Charlotte is an underwhelming character. Great review! 😀

  3. I like reading “nerd” books, but most of the time you can tell the author has no idea what they’re talking about. It’s like those gifs from CSI making fun of how they impossibly enhance videos and images. Like this. This sounds like it was better than that…?

    I hate formatting issues. I have an eARC right now that has really wonky spacing, similar to yours. :/

    1. Hahaha, oh gosh. Those enhance images are so full of crap! It’s disappointing how often you see them. Yeah CSI is a big one, but also pretty much any crime/police movie or TV show. I’m rewatching the seasons of 24 and you see it a ton in there! WHERE DO THE PIXELS COME FROM?!?! Lol.

Recent Posts

    Random Posts