The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

Today I will write a good old book review. I’ll give you my spoiler-free thoughts on The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Let’s get started!

6613956Goodreads / Amazon blurb:

A prime number is a lonely thing. It can only be divided by itself or by one, and it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia are both “primes”-misfits haunted by early tragedies. When the two meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. Years later, a chance encounter reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. But can two prime numbers ever find a way to be together? A brilliantly conceived and elegantly written debut novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers is a stunning meditation on loneliness, love, and what it means to be human.

Content warning: eating disorder, self-harm, homophobia, discrimination based on mental health,… (These are the ones I can remember.)

I want to start by talking about the writing style, the one thing I loved about this book. The writing was poetic, yet didn’t become too flower-y. Giordano knew exactly what he wanted to say and conveyed that through many beautiful metaphors, without using a word too much. The first example is the stunning title.

“Mathematicians call them twin primes: pairs of prime numbers that are close to each other, almost neighbors, but between them there is always an even number that prevents them from truly touching. Numbers like 11 and 13, like 17 and 19, 41 and 43. If you have the patience to go on counting, you discover that these pairs gradually become rarer. You encounter increasingly isolated primes, lost in that silent, measured space made only of ciphers, and you develop a distressing presentiment that the pairs encountered up until that point were accidental, that solitude is the true destiny. Then, just when you’re about to surrender, when you no longer have the desire to go on counting, you come across another pair of twins, clutching each other tightly.”

“Mattia though that he and Alice were like that, twin primes, alone and lost, close but not close enough to really touch each other.”

His prose was so immersive and made me truly feel for these characters. He sketched out feelings and situation so wonderfully. At times, the desperation and loneliness radiated of the page.

When it comes to the characters, I felt for most of them: Alice, Mattia, Mattia’s parents, Denis, … They were well written. I did feel a lack of development from them. In many ways they stayed the same throughout the book. For example, I was disappointed Alice’s confrontation with her anorexia wasn’t given the right amount of page-time. Her character didn’t grow.
I did like that there was no romance in the story. It was refreshing. The friendship the book focuses on is strange, yet beautiful and interesting.

“In fact, they didn’t talk much at all, but they spent time together, each in his own abyss, held safe and tight by the other’s silence.”

The plot had a good alternation between Mattia’s and Alice’s perspective. I also think Giordano chose the right moments in their lives to focus on. My main complaint, however, is that the story lacked tension and purpose. It was boring at times. I felt we were going nowhere. I didn’t see the point as their was no good plot or character development.

In conclusion, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. I decided to go for this middle-of-the-road rating as I loved the writing style, but wasn’t impressed by the characters nor the plot.

If you liked this, you might also like…

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson // Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

Have you read The Solitude of Prime Numbers? What did you think?

That’s all for this review. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!


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3 thoughts on “The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

  1. Pingback: Build your own dream reading corner / tag + Know all the books fairs happening around you! – Living in Pages

  2. Pingback: February wrap-up // amazing but little reading | Brilliantly bookish

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