ARC Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

ARC Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher
The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
by Brian Katcher

Genres: Comedy, Contemporary, Humor, Romance, Young Adult
Publication date: May 19th 2015
by Katherine Tegen

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

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…

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Things to Expect from The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak:

1.) Two wonderfully-portrayed main characters. Ana and Zak both have very different and distinct personalities. Both were a bit hard to like at first (Ana was pretty stuck up, and Zak was an arrogant prick), but as they continued to learn more about each other and themselves, I realized that I’ve grown quite attached to them. Both went through a lot of character development, and I appreciated that a lot.

2.) Hilarious banter. If you didn’t know, I’m actually hard to please when it comes to humorous books. But this one was making me laugh out loud. Both the characters were quirky and sassy, and the banter between them was just spot-on.

3.) Geektastic pop culture references. I love pop culture references! Unfortunately, some of the references were lost on me since I’m not really a gamer, but if you are, you’re definitely going to appreciate this book!

4.) Underlying themes and life lessons. While this book was mostly just light and fun, you’re going to realize things about yourself and other people while reading. You’re going to find that trust doesn’t come easily, but it can be learned. You’re going to think about how some people have more in them then you first thought they did.

5.) A odd cast of secondary characters that you may or may not love. The side characters in this book were definitely… intense, in a way. They had such strong personalities, and sometimes they just a bit overwhelming. There were also times when they made me want to poke their eyes with a stick.

6.) A cute plot… that goes awry. I was loving all the geekiness in the convention–things were cute and exciting, until the last maybe 20% of the book. A certain fucking weird scene happened, and it basically came out of nowhere!


I’d recommend The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak to all the geeks (and geek lovers) out there who want to feel empowered, and for non-geeks who want to learn more about all the fabulous geek fandoms. But if you’re not a fan of illogical/unrealistic stories, maybe this won’t be for you.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.6

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Aimee is a sixteen year old bookworm from the Phillipines! She reads any book that catches her attention, but she mostly reads YA. She's into graphic design, writing and sleeping. You can find her at Deadly Darlings, The Book Geek, Goodreads and on Twitter.

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  1. says

    Wonderful review Aimee! Part of me really wants to pick this up for all the positives you mentioned but then another part of me isn’t sure because of the really weird scene that came out of nowhere! But you do really have me curious so…I just might give this one a try sometime in the future. ;)
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  2. says

    This sounds so wonderfully brilliant Aimee, the humour, the banter, it’s so hard to find that genuine lightheartedness in YA these days. I love well developed secondary characters, but these sound a little like they’re not secondary enough and take away from the main storyline even. I love the quirk, but might have issues with them being too strong. And what’s with that ending? I can understand that books need a little extra something for characters to overcome and authors like to shock readers, but coming left of field I can imagine would put a lot of readers off. really intrigued to know what that is now. Wonderful review Aimee, looking forward to reading this one soon too <3
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    • Aimee says

      Yes! Usually I end up scoffing at attempted humor, but this one was genuinely funny. :) The secondary characters don’t shine so much as the main, which is good. :) Yes, the twist in this book was just way out of what you would expect. o_o I hope you love it! <3

  3. says

    I’m glad that you were able to enjoy this one overall Aimee, it does sound like a pretty cool read, something that I could enjoy. But you do have me curious about this weird scene that takes place, I hope it’s not awful and off putting. Thank you for your honest review on this one, I probably will end up giving it a go one day when I’m in the right mood for it!
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    • Aimee says

      It was definitely an… odd scene. I guess it just didn’t fit in with the theme of the rest of the book? Hopefully it won’t stop you from enjoying the book, though. :)

  4. says

    I can forgive characters who come off negatively if there is enough positive character growth or you can understand why they are the way they are. Sounds like Ana & Zak grew on you. Hilarious banter is always a plus in my book! That’s unfortunate a plot twist diminished your enjoyment, though, Aimee! Sounds like the secondary characters were well fleshed out especially if you wanted to poke their eyes out with a stick, lol! Nice to see in spite of the deficiencies you enjoyed the book overall. Cute cover, too! Wonderful review! :)
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    • Aimee says

      Thanks so much, Rachel! I can deal with irritating characters as long as they develop throughout the story. :) And the plot twist was… insane, to say the least. :/ The secondary characters were very intense, haha! xD And the cover IS adorable!

  5. says

    I’ve seen this book everywhere in like Edelweiss, and now I’m really interested to read it :) I love humorous books and I’m glad this book is one! All of the points of interest you pointed out were incredibly convincing, and I hope to pick this one up when it releases in a few days (YAY!). Thanks so much for the review :) Love the way you write!!
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  6. says

    I LOVE the blurb for this book! The cover, not so much, but the blurb wins at everything, and I’m so happy that you enjoyed this overall, Aimee! Though I wish it could have impressed you more because it sounds like it has the potential to be one of those contemporaries you love forever and never ever forget, so the 3.6 stars are kind of disappointing. :(

    But anyway, the characters sound amazing. I especially love characters who come across as unlikable at first, but then slowly transform into something more, and then — BAM. You realize that you’ve really been attached to them the whole time. It’s that kind of surprise that makes them all the more memorable! And of course, having hilarious banter just makes things 100% better, especially when it comes to romance. I always ship couples who are able to make punny quips back and forth. :D I’m like you: hard to please when it comes to humor. I rarely laugh out loud when it comes to books, so it’s great that the comedy here was so good.

    Ahhh, I’m not big on games either. I like them, but I don’t play them often, so I probably wouldn’t be able to get many of the references here either. Sadddd. I like that there is a layer of depth beneath all that fluff and humor, though. And lol, is it weird that I am strangely curious to read about this strange scene that happens??

    Lovely review as usual, Aimee! I think I might read this, but I don’t know yet even though I love how adorable the story sounds. And then there’s that scene I’m morbidly curious about. O_O
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    • Aimee says

      Really? I’m actually kind of obsessed with the cover myself, hehe. It’s what made me want to read the book, not the blurb. xD
      And YES the banter makes the couple so shippable! Especially if THEY grow attached to each other while you grow attached to them. :)
      A lot of people told me that they’re curious about it! xD Hint: It does’t really match with the ‘light’ mood of the book. D: It’s not sad though, it’s just plain insane.
      Thanks Meg! I do hope you end up enjoying this if you end up reading it though. :)

  7. says

    I don’t think I would enjoy this, mainly because of the weird scene and general illogicality of the story, from what I got through your review. I like my books to make sense, most of the time, and from what I can tell this one and I wouldn’t be well paired. But oh well! It sounds rather interesting, though I can’t say I love pop culture references- it’s not so frustrating to me when it’s referencing video games, but when it’s about general pop culture it never really wins me over, as such.
    Nice review, Aimee- you got me with the lists! Xx
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    • Aimee says

      While I do like more logical books, there are times when I’d appreciate a quick, funny and maybe weird book. Not sure this would be for you, then.
      Thanks, Romi! <3