The Curious Crime by Julia Golding was not a terrible book, in fact parts of it were quite fantastic. But unfortunately the book sent a message that I had an extremely hard time stomaching. My initial disgust with the book itself did ebb somewhat as I continued on, which is something I felt relieved about as I nearly did not finish this book. I understood Golding’s desire to show the benefits of “why” questions, however it became difficult to take her seriously the very moment God was brought up. The book is somewhat littered with a disregard for scientific thought, lacking a developed understanding of the fact that “why” questions are not absent from science nor discouraged in any real sense, but rather that unproveable facts are not given merit as true answers.
Science is founded on why questions just as much as how. The why and the how meld together to create our amazing ability to find truth. Why is it that a plant grows when I give it water? How does the plant grow? They’re not separate from each other. What Golding references in The Curious Crime are the why questions that have yet to find verified answers and tries to puport faith, which has absolutely no verification thus far, as a reasonable answer. God is a theory, one that definitively has no facts to back it at this current point in time. And the only issue science takes with religion is when people make claims that God is a truth which cannot ever be denied, a declaration that is blatantly ridiculous. I truly do not think Golding, as far as the book she has written implies, fully understands this. For someone who can be quoted as having said that scientists accept and/or welcome the possibility of being proven wrong, it baffles me that Golding would portray it as she does. I had huge problems with her push for religion and faith as well as the insulting way she portrays science in this book. It’s a take I cannot agree with.
Barring the religious nature of the novel, the book was fairly good. I had initially been rather excited to read it, especially as the book started off with a rather brilliant plot involving a young female character who has to fight for the right to work in a job that has been decided upon as one only a man can hold. It’s set in a museum, which was ridiculously exciting, and the motivation for main character, Ree, was wonderfully tantalizing. There’s so much promise within the start of the book that it was utterly devastating to have so much taken away from the book by the overall message. Thus, as a result, the book quickly became rather mediocre, the only thing pushing it along being the mystery of who the murderer is—the answer was rather anti-climactic—Ree’s secret is revealed far too quickly, a massive time jump is made, and frankly I was baffled as to Henri’s purpose in the book as it did somewhat take away from Ree’s character.
There is a mild commentary on race and racism, just barely making itself known. They’re almost blink and you miss it moments varying from brief references to Henri’s home and mother and then eventually a single comment from the menagerie keeper. Overall, the commentary was rather subpar to what I would expect in 2018, though I guess it’s better than having nothing at all and I did appreciate that there was at least some diversity included within the story. But ultimately there were a number of things I just didn’t like about this book and I’ve been in the position in the past of having read some really impressive books about young girls breaking the bounds of societal expectations for their genders that don’t fall into the problematic issue of pushing religion in a manner that so brazenly defames science, the worst part lying in what appears to be the author’s own ignorance on the matter.. It disturbed me greatly to see it in a book, and a middlegrade one at that.
So, perhaps The Curious Crime simply wasn’t for me.
Just as a final note, I do have to say that I’m rather in love with the cover. It’s gorgeous, inclusive, and quite enticing.
I was provided this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.