Love At Absolute Zero” is a comic romance about Gunnar Gunderson, a 32-year-old star physicist at the University of Wisconsin who’s determined to meet his soul mate within three days using the Scientific Method. As he channels his inner salmon for speed dating, he accidentally steps on the toes of a visiting Danish schoolteacher–and his life turns upside down.
With a fair amount of critical acclaim and a number of awards, I had high expectations for Love at Absolute Zero. But even if the bar hadn’t been set quite so high, I’d still have been disappointed. The story moves so slowly, there aren’t enough really funny moments to make up for it and it’s almost completely devoid of any heat which seems to fit, considering the title. But after hearing how laugh-out-loud funny it is and that it had been a finalist and winner of numerous awards, I did expect more. I expected to at least smile a few times.
In addition to being too slow, a jumble of events take place that don’t seem to really move the plot forward. I never really felt like Gunnar’s character evolved all that much as the story progressed. I kept waiting for the epiphany, that sudden realization of the thing he needed to do in order to overcome his flaw and finally get the girl of his dreams. Instead, his ideal girl seemed to be situationally-based. The girl he wanted was whichever one seemed to want him at the moment. So rather than Gunnar really taking control of the situation, he let the situation control his actions and his emotions.
Gunnar is not particularly likeable. He’s awkward, which can be okay, but he lacks the bumbling endearing qualities that normally accompany an awkward protagonist that we also love. I didn’t really care if Gunnar achieved his goal or not. I was pretty apathetic about him and the story by the end of the book.
It wasn’t so bad that I didn’t want to finish it, but I can’t recommend it either. It plods along with less than likeable characters and never once made me laugh, despite its promises to do so.