Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review - The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

Welcome to the next top in the TLC Book Tour for Matthew Pearl's The Technologists! After you've read my review, be sure to enter the giveaway below and check out the other stops in the tour, listed at the end of the post. Other tour participants are not only offering their reviews, but other giveaways will be available as well.

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From Goodreads:

The first class at M.I.T. The last hope for a city in peril. 

The acclaimed author of The Dante Club reinvigorates the historical thriller. Matthew Pearl’s spellbinding new novel transports readers to tumultuous nineteenth-century Boston, where the word “technology” represents a bold and frightening new concept. The fight for the future will hinge on . . .   THE TECHNOLOGISTS   Boston, 1868.

The Civil War may be over but a new war has begun, one between the past and the present, tradition and technology. On a former marshy wasteland, the daring Massachusetts Institute of Technology is rising, its mission to harness science for the benefit of all and to open the doors of opportunity to everyone of merit. But in Boston Harbor a fiery cataclysm throws commerce into chaos, as ships’ instruments spin inexplicably out of control. Soon after, another mysterious catastrophe devastates the heart of the city. Is it sabotage by scientific means or Nature revolting against man’s attempt to control it?

The shocking disasters cast a pall over M.I.T. and provoke assaults from all sides—rival Harvard, labor unions, and a sensationalistic press. With their first graduation and the very survival of their groundbreaking college now in doubt, a band of the Institute’s best and brightest students secretly come together to save innocent lives and track down the truth, armed with ingenuity and their unique scientific training.

Led by “charity scholar” Marcus Mansfield, a quiet Civil War veteran and one-time machinist struggling to find his footing in rarefied Boston society, the group is rounded out by irrepressible Robert Richards, the bluest of Beacon Hill bluebloods; Edwin Hoyt, class genius; and brilliant freshman Ellen Swallow, the Institute’s lone, ostracized female student. Working against their small secret society, from within and without, are the arrayed forces of a stratified culture determined to resist change at all costs and a dark mastermind bent on the utter destruction of the city.

Studded with suspense and soaked in the rich historical atmosphere for which its author is renowned, The Technologists is a dazzling journey into a dangerous world not so very far from our own, as the America we know today begins to shimmer into being.

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Matthew Pearl
What a fabulous novel!  Matthew Pearl is a bestselling author, but this is the first I’ve read of his work.  I was drawn to The Technologists in part because of its 19th-century setting, but also because of its centering on the early days of modern technology.  I wouldn’t consider myself a techie, but I value what the innovations of the last 100 years have brought to our society.  As much as I romanticize the 19th century, I can’t imagine living without many of the technological comforts we have today.  Seeing the nascent days of MIT through the lens of a thrilling novel was an interesting draw for me.

The Technologists did not let me down in the least! The history was interesting, the characters likeable, and the plot was eminently enjoyable.  Matthew Pearl’s writing is wonderful, making me feel like I was watching a movie, without the flimsy writing of some made-for-Hollywood texts.  A large portion of the story involved an intense mystery which kept me guessing up until nearly the very end.  And I was completely shocked at the ultimate culprit, as he/she was someone I never would have pegged as a villain.  Pearl also takes his time to finish all the extraneous plot points surrounding the main mystery, giving the novel a very complete feeling.

While Mr. Pearl takes some artistic license with large portions of his tale, much of the novel is based in fact, which he also takes the time to explain in the concluding Afterward chapter.  I had no idea that MIT had experienced such a rocky start, but it makes sense.  It’s common for cultures to resist embracing radical change.  Anything they couldn’t understand (and there was plenty of the seemingly incomprehensible at MIT) was seen as suspicious, dangerous or even downright evil in the minds of many.  It’s not surprising that there were forces fighting against the establishment of such a new type of institute. 

The Technologists
is populated mostly by males, but the two main females within the story are given such high regard, and the cause for women’s rights is trumpeted loud and clear, I believe most women would enjoy this title very much.  Of course I enjoyed the touches of chaste romance that popped up from time to time, but really my entertainment came from the book as a whole. 

Matthew Pearl has written a novel that is at once thrilling, educational and delightfully lacking in formulaic development.  Not only do I recommend it to anyone considering MIT in their educational future, but also to those who seek a quality historical novel.  The world of The Technologists does not disappoint, and I hope to see more of it in the future, either on the silver screen or as a sequel to this fabulous work.   

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Giveaway of The Technologists!
(Now Closed)

TLC Book Tours has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Technologists to one of my readers!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and take note of the contest guidelines:

  • The contest period ends at 12:01am EST on March 18th, 2012.
  • Make sure you leave your email address in the one required portion of the Rafflecopter form. Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 18th.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • The winner must supply a U.S. or Canadian mailing address for prize shipment.
  • TLC Book Tours will be responsible for prize shipment after they receive the mailing address from me.
  • You may tweet about the giveaway once per day for bonus entries. Please report the direct URL to the tweet in the Rafflecopter form.
  • Entries will be verified.  If a fraudulent entry is detected for the winning name, another winner will be drawn.

If you can't see the Rafflecopter form,
try clicking on the "Read more »" link
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Matthew Pearl’s TLC Book Tour:

Monday, February 13th:  Book Chatter
Tuesday, February 14th:  Unabridged Chick
Thursday, February 16th:  The House of Crime and Mystery
Monday, February 20th:  Book Club Classics
Wednesday, February 22nd:  A Library of My Own
Friday, February 24th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, February 28th:  Jen’s Book Thoughts
Wednesday, February 29th:  Man of La Book
Thursday, March 1st:  Book Addict Katie
Monday, March 5th:  Calico Critic
Wednesday, March 7th:  Annette’s Book Spot
Monday, March 12th:  S. Krishna’s Books
Wednesday, March 14th:  Wordsmithonia



  1. I've heard quite a bit about this book already, it's making a bit of a stir. I love the concept and the time period. It would be great to win a copy.

  2. would love to read this book!!

  3. Thank you so much for the giveaway!

    I became curious when I saw it on Shelf Awareness' newsletter, any historical mystery is my thing!

  4. I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  5. yukitonmsyndromer@gmail.comMarch 6, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    Sounds very intriguing, and I've been attempting to get into more historical novels lately. Thanks for the contest!

  6. This book sounds like a winner and I would love to read it.

  7. I've been really trying to win this book. I like to read fiction set in Massachusetts. Thanks!

  8. "As much as I romanticize the 19th century, I can’t imagine living without many of the technological comforts we have today." I so agree!

    Glad you enjoyed this one - I'm really looking forward to reading it myself.

  9. sounds great n wud love the chance to win diz! :)



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