Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Empathy Problem

by Gavin Extence
403 pgs

The Empathy Problem is Gavin Extence's third book. He's not well known, but he has quickly become one of my favorite authors. It follows The Universe Versus Alex Woods and The Mirror World of Melody Black; two fantastic books that I can't recommend strongly enough. This one is another great one.

Gabriel Vaughn is a 32-year-old hedge fund manager in London. He makes millions of pounds every year, drives a Ferrari, cares about no one but himself, and he just found out he has an inoperable brain tumor and has only a few months left to live. He has no intentions of telling anyone of his condition, and with the exception of his boss and coworkers, there's no one in his life to tell.

But either the tumor or the realization of his own mortality begins to change Gabriel. He starts to feel emotions for the first time in his life. He begins to feel empathy and a disturbing sense of compassion for those he previously considered with a sense of revulsion--if he even considered them at all.

I've found it interesting that Extence's books, while each very different, have each had a common element--the brain. Alex Woods was struck by a meteorite in the head, which had a significant impact on the rest of his life. Melody Black is bipolar (the same condition I believe Extence himself lives with), and Gabriel's brain is being slowly changed by the tumor.

I can't wait for whatever Extence decides to write next. I've become less and less patient with getting my hands on his books as each subsequent book has come out. I don't think this one has been published by his US publisher yet, I had to order it from a store in London, where he lives, and where I think he's more well known than he is here in the States. I hope that that changes soon, and that more people here pick up one of his books and find out just how great of an author he is.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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