Where Literature Meets Physics: “Alone With You in the Ether” Review

The perfect book for those who love both reading and physics. Credit: Tom Doherty Associates

The perfect book for those who love both reading and physics. Credit: Tom Doherty Associates

Author Olivie Blake is most known for her best-selling fantasy novel The Atlas Six, which has taken over recommendation lists posted on TikTok in recent months. However, Blake has produced other fantastic novels that, though they are not receiving the same level of attention, certainly deserve it. One such example is Alone With You in the Ether, an adult contemporary romance novel that follows art museum tour guide Regan and calculus professor Aldo, who decide to have six conversations to get to know each other after a chance meeting and find their lives dramatically altered by them.

Alone With You in the Ether is particularly unique in that it uses many physics- and math-related metaphors to convey what the characters are feeling. This leads to the development of a distinct writing style that would appeal to those who love reading, but also have an interest in STEM subjects. However, they are still presented in a way that makes them easily accessible by people who aren’t as familiar with the complicated concepts. These metaphors aren’t limited to science and math, but stretch to everything that the characters are interested in, such as bees, which Aldo is fascinated with, and the creation of art, which Aldo relates to Regan. They also showcase Blake’s sophisticated writing ability in that the reader is able to understand what the characters are feeling and thinking about each other on a deep level without it ever being directly stated, setting it apart from many other popular novels from the same genre. These metaphors not only create beautiful, uninterrupted prose, but also contribute to the reader’s understanding of the two character’s connection by showing tethers between them in the way that they view each other despite looking quite different from an early perspective.

Despite Alone With You in the Ether being written in third person, the reader is able to closely connect with and understand the two main characters through the author’s unique writing structure. Most heavily used in the beginning of the book, when the reader is first introduced to Aldo and Regan, their routines and interactions with and thoughts about other people in their lives are communicated through breaks in the narrative spoken by a variety of types of people taking on a narrator role. This keeps the reader’s attention through creating a unique format for them to consume rather than just prose for 260 pages, and it also communicates, without directly stating, how the character views that aspect of their life. Some examples included the description of Regan’s job being told by “a middle aged woman with a brisk intolerance for nonsense” and Aldo’s thought process being told by “an aging, arthritic man in possession of many books.” Blake also is able to skillfully tell both Aldo and Regan’s sides of the story in that their perspectives blend seamlessly together. The reader is always aware of whose thoughts are dominating a scene, but there is also a sense of equality between the perspectives that balances the characters. When they are apart, the scenes are brief enough so that the characters remain connected, but also long enough to allow the reader to have insight into what they do when they are not in the presence of the other. This allows for the connection of Regan and Aldo to be portrayed in yet another way rather than being directly stated in that it shows the reader the equal nature of their bond and impact that they had on each other. 

Alone With You in the Ether is undoubtedly one of the best novels in the romance genre. It is perfect for readers who share an interest in science and math alongside their love of literature and well-crafted with a unique style that leaves the reader intrigued to read more by the author. However, it should be noted that it also discusses heavy topics, including but not limited to bipolar disorder and drug use, which readers should be aware of before engaging.