By: Melanie | June 16, 2015 | (42) Comments

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian KatcherThe Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 336
Source: Received in exchange for review
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The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is one of those laugh out loud, quirky contemporaries with fantastic underlying messages that every contemporary junkie needs to read. It’s definitely a book that I enjoyed, and apparently a spider agrees with me (it’s now dead though). Oh yes, I went to the bathroom the other day and when I came back to my desk, there was a huge ugly spider resting on my book. The horrors. I legit screamed and spent the next half an hour (okay, that’s an exaggeration) having a staring competition with the spider; I didn’t dare to leave the room because that dodgy spider would have totally ran off to hide, which would then consist of me flipping the entire house upside-down in search for it. IT’S ALWAYS WORSE WHEN YOU KNOW THERE’S A SPIDER BUT YOU CAN’T GODDAMN FIND IT. And I didn’t want to try and kill it with my old textbook because 1) WHAT THE HELL WOULD I DO IF I MISSED? THE SPIDER WOULD START SPAZZING AND I’D HAVE A PANIC ATTACK and 2) do I really want spider guts on my old textbooks? I mean, REALLY? Anyway my mum soon came home and saved the day. I think I’m just going to live with my mum when I grow up so I never have to deal with spiders. Ugh.

ANYWAY. I have obviously strayed off topic here. The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is not a book about spiders taking over the universe by stealing all of Mel’s precious books. No, it is so much better than that; it’s a romantic comedy that is told in dual POV by two seemingly totally different people over the course of one day, set at a sci-fi themed convention (think ComicCon or any other geeky festivals). Con-goers and pop-culture addicts, meet your next favourite book.

Brian Katcher’s latest follows two teens who seem jarringly different on the surface. You have Ana, who sticks with the rules and is a straight A student. Then there’s Zak; he may seem like a slacker but he’s clearly been through more pain than anyone would have ever guessed. I don’t know how Katcher does it but he manages to create two fantastically well-rounded characters that held my equal attention. It’s not all that frequent that I can enjoy both perspectives in a dual POV novel, so I was really glad that these characters captivated me equally as much. Both Ana and Zak both have their flaws and are far from perfect, but their character development hits strong and feel so three-dimensional to me. Heck, I can even identify these characters with people I know in real life.

The romance is something I’m very neutral about. This being a novel set around only a couple of days, the romance obviously had to move quickly. I wouldn’t call this instant-love though. I think Ana and Zak’s chemistry is very much real and the way their relationship developed seems completely acceptable to me. They don’t end up saying their “I love yous” by the end of the book (thank God) but you can tell that their relationship is going to bloom with possibilities. The two of them are pretty darn cute together, and their banter managed to pull a smile on my face on several occasions.

My largest complaint about this book was that things got quite ridiculous about halfway into the book. I’ve never been to something like ComicCon but I was bewildered and just weirded out by some of the things that happened in this book. Many situations seemed unlikely to happen in real life. Basically, it got so unbelievable to the point where it really ruined my enjoyment and I had to put the book down.

Despite that, I really loved that this book had strong messages woven into the story line. The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is a coming-of-age story that shows you that there are always two sides to a story, and that first-impressions aren’t always the impressions that are intended to stay, because everyone has more to than what they appear to be on the surface.

~Thank you HarperCollins Australia for sending me this copy!~

3 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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42 Responses to Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

  1. Danielle says:

    Lol I can only imagine how terrifying Aussie spiders are! I think I’d be rocking in a corner! That book sounds really cute despite it getting a bit silly in the middle. I love quirky stories and this would definitely appeal to my inner (and outer) geek! Lovely review Mel!
    Danielle recently posted…Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard | ReviewMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Haha I don’t think they’re particularly much scarier than other spiders but yeah I have a serious issue with spiders blurrrrgh. Thanks, girl <33

  2. JennRenee says:

    Poor spider…I mean bad spider….

    I like contemporary romances but I am picky over them. I need them to be seriously jacked up characters … more on the realistic issue side or really cute an fluffy and funny. I can deal with everything in between those lines if one of those is types are present. This one sounds really cute, even if a bit unbeleivalbe
    JennRenee recently posted…Teaser Tuesday: The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric SmithMy Profile

  3. Curious to see what those unbelievable things are. I mean, ComicCon is probably one of the few events where you can get grown men and women embrace their inner children, so I can only hazard a guess. Lol.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…Bad DayMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      LOL haha I can imagine! Nah it was more unbelievable in the sense of the characters actions and some spoiler-y things that happened towards the end that make no logical sense. 😉

  4. Hilary says:

    I’m sorry to say that your spider story interested me more than the review BUT I STILL READ IT, DO NOT FEAR. Hmm, judging by the title I would have thought the romance would be the most complex and developed aspect of the book but I guess that’s the problem with first impressions and book covers.
    Hilary recently posted…Why Can’t We All Be Friends?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Haha, well it isn’t every day you get to hear one of my spider stories LOL. Trust me, I have plenty more of ’em. Yeah, I’m not a fan of the title <.<

  5. I have staring competitions with bugs all the time, too, but it’s usually grasshoppers, not spiders. They terrify me. But I digress. This type of cute, genuinely funny read is rare. It usually ends up seeming that the author is trying too hard, which is so not good. But even the ridiculous bits are okay with me if they’re funny and cute enough.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Review: RevolutionMy Profile

  6. Great review! I’ve seen this around but heard mixed things so I wanted to see what someone else thought about it. I might pick it up because I love conventions and all that geeky stuff.

    I hate it also when you see a spider but then it disappears because you then think it’s going to come back and kill you in your sleep.
    Katie @ Book Arrows recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My TBR For Summer 2015My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Katie. I definitely think it’s worth a try if you’re into’ all the geeky stuff’ hehe. RIGHT? I swear all the spiders are conspiring against me and plotting my assassination

  7. Rashika says:

    That’s my plan too. I don’t ever want to have to deal with spiders. They are gross and need to go away. I don’t even know how I survived an entire year without freaking out about all the creepy crawlies.

    I AM GLAD you liked the book, Mel!! I think I got this one off of EW (since it sounded super cute) and hopefully I’ll get around to reading it soon! I like that all the characters were three dimensional and the romance worked.

    I am always vary of romances that develop over a short period of time but I think it can be done well and I hope I like the romance in the book!

    Lovely review, Mel! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…Review: Spelled by Betsy Schow + Poll: Which Fairy Tale Character Are You?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Rashika! I am not a fan of romances that span over a short time as well but it worked okay here because it moves at a believable pace xD

  8. Ksenia says:

    Wonderful review, Melanie! Sorry to hear the romance wasn’t total winner for you. I’m afraid I would have issues with ridiculous things too. Glad to hear you still enjoyed the book.
    Ksenia recently posted…Audiobook mini-review: Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

  9. Lexa Cain says:

    I’ve been seeing more and more books about geeks and con-goers recently. I guess it’s trending up! Thanks for the review! 🙂
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate: Bird Box Fangirling & Lots of Giveaways!My Profile

  10. Oh god, I hate spiders. I would have freaked out.

    But this sounds like a cute read- and I like that it takes place at a convention. How fun. 🙂

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…One Good Egg by Suzy BeckerMy Profile

  11. Cuteness and banter, though? I DEFINITELY WANT TO TRY IT. I’m not a contemporary junkie, though, and I do get skeptical when things are a little unrealistic. >_> I blame my Vulcan brain, but stilllll…geekiness? I LOVE.

    Also your spider story has given me nightmares. THANKS FOR NOTHING.
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Books I Will Gnaw In The Near Future Or Face The Wrath of My Humongous TBRMy Profile

  12. Alyssa says:

    Your spider anecdote made me both laugh and freak out a little. Our spiders here are tiny and generally not scary because we just squish them, but I hate cockroaches. Having to deal with pests myself is definitely a scarier part of adulting.

    I’m suuuuuper picky with contemporary. I’ve heard a lot about this book, though, and romance set in a conference is something I haven’t seen before. Sooo … maybe?
    Alyssa recently posted…Bookish Takeout [2]: Should we give a series a second chance?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Ew yep cockroaches? I cannot deal with them either. I leave those for my parents, lol.

      I found the romance being set in a convention pretty refreshing!

  13. OMG how scary are spiders! They are the worst, especially massive ones. This story sounds super cute, with very real fleshed out characters. Being a Comic-Con attendee, I think I’ll be able to relate!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier Review: I Like Fun Sci-Fi and I Cannot LieMy Profile

  14. Hannah says:

    Ha love your review and sympathise with the spider antics! This sounds like a rather quirky and fun read, if somewhat exaggerated.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: The Gracekeepers – Kirsty LoganMy Profile

  15. Aww, you’re the cutest thing <3 One time, I was sleeping and when I woke up and opened my eyes, there was a spider RIGHT in front on my face, on the pillow. I almost had a heart attack. It was ugly – all green with long furry legs. I will never forget that day.
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…18th Birthday GIVEAWAY! My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Hehe *blushes* Oh my GAWD that sounds absolutely terrifying! A green spider? Kill me now. That sounds like it came right out of a nightmare.

  16. Spider killing mechanism of choice? Old magazine on the spider, then JUMP on old magazine until you know spider is dead. Leave magazine AND spider for someone else to deal with. 😀

    Oh right, the book 😉 Basically, I don’t know if I could get over the unbelievable stuff! I actually just got VERY stabby with a book that pulled similar shenanigans. But then… it does sound good otherwise. Lovely review 🙂
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…The Books I May or May Not Read This SummerMy Profile

  17. Wattle says:

    I use a giant French dictionary to kill bugs and spiders (ugh cockroaches), it’s the most use that thing has ever had, and it’s highly effective!

    I think I shall have to add this one to my TBR, I enjoy a good convention so you’ve made me curious!
    Wattle recently posted…Wattle’s Wonderings #3My Profile

  18. Valerie says:

    WHY IS HALF OF THIS REVIEW TALKING ABOUT A SPIDER. Lol you are so weird Mel. Like this book. Wait so the MCs go to Comic Con? What? I think I would be more interested in this if it wasn’t a contemporary, but what can you do. I’M GLAD YOU LIKED THIS MEL. I don’t think I’ll pick this up, but on the off chance I do, I’ll read it in memory of the spider
    Valerie recently posted…Review: The StoryspinnerMy Profile

    • Melanie says:


      Why yes, being weird is my speciality. Haha yep, never forget that spider story of mine if you ever pick this one up!

  19. Romi says:

    Nice review, Mel! I’m sorry it had that moment in the middle that just didn’t meld with the rest of the story- that sounds like it would have been disruptive. This sounds like it would be a kind of really fun, rolicking good read, but at the same time I don’t love contemporary and am keen to try and stay as much away from them as possible at the moment, and I feel like I would get frustrated by the characters, from what I’ve heard. Even if I’d enjoy seeing everything that happened at the Con.

    Ahha, spiders! I was exercising the other day and put the blanket I’d been using as a back rest for sit ups away only for it to fall open and reveal I’d been joined throughout my situps by a massive (overall bigger than my thumb) black spider. It could have been potentially very painful and intensely messy. And I do love that blanket.
    Romi recently posted…A Q&A and a giveaway! (Open AUS)My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Romi! *gasps* You don’t love contemporary? *weeps* I forgive you though because you share my horror of spiders. That sounds quite horrific! I would have dropped the blanket and run around screaming.

  20. Maya says:

    This book looks adorable! I like how real you felt the characters were and how both their POVs were equally wonderful – I feel like reading this now (I’ll never say no to a rom com;)) It’s sad that the romance didn’t go too well though:(
    Great review as always Melanie!!:D
    Maya recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Made Me CryMy Profile

  21. Ahhhh, I hate spiders!!! I would have done the exact same thing. Thankfully I live with my boyfriend now and he has no problem with them, so he’s responsible for getting rid of all of them. He used to have a tarantula as a child, so none of our house spiders bother him. THANK GOD!!!! I am a horrible screaming mess whenever I see a spider. Wooooooah, I am going way off topic too :’)

    I just finished reading this the other day and had the same thoughts, also ended up giving it the same rating. I thought it was really cute, quirky and it made me laugh but it wasn’t an amazing read.
    Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm recently posted…A Colleen Hoover Mini Review Extravaganza!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      RIght? SPIDERS ARE THE WORST. And lucky you! How are some people not scared of spiders? IT MAKES NO SENSE. Glad you liked the book as well! It was fun but not much else, I guess!

      Thanks for stopping by, Charnell <33

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