Review- I Am Radar by Reif Larsen

As a huge fan of Reif Larsen's first novel, The Selected Works of Spivet, I was extremely impatient to get my hands on his second book, I Am Radar. I had never solicited a publisher (Penguin) for a copy before, but thought I'd try. Ask and you shall receive! Thanks, guys.

I Am Radar is a long, complicated, tale that takes us around the globe, to different time periods, with different characters. At the heart of the book is Radar, a man that was born black to white parents. His mother was desperate to find out why and to remove the pigment from her young son's skin. Absolutely, ridiculously desperate. His father, a man passionate about radios, was more accepting of his little boy's differences. Charlene's quest led them across the globe to a Norway, where a group of performance artists claimed they could make Radar white again with radio frequency. 

And so it begins, this story about Radar's transformation, a group obsessed with puppetry and social commentary, and the ties that bring everyone together from New Jersey to Norway to Cambodia to Africa. 

The writing is quirky and wonderful. The characters are developed and complex. The story is fascinating and meanders, but within reason. The relationships and connections are deliberate and meaningful. The visuals are well-placed and do not distract. 

It's about race. It's about family. It's about identity. It's about trying to figure out if what you're doing matters to anyone else, and if that even matters to begin with. It's about art and science. It's about legacy and adventure. 

I really, really like this book, I do. There were times where I wondered if it was a touch too ambitious and occasionally I missed the simplicity of TS Spivet. But who wants an author to stay holed-up in his comfort zone? Not I. So I applaud the efforts and will anxiously await a third a book. 


  1. So glad to see a great review for this! I have a copy waiting for me, but it's always hard to start such a huge book when you have absolutely no idea what to expect. I'm definitely excited to get reading now.

  2. Sounds fascinating! Added it to my TBR/wish list on goodreads.

  3. Ok, you have swayed me to read this next! I have two author events this week and couldn't decide quickly enough...thanks Christine!