The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna
"Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.
Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love."- summary from Amazon
This was a really interesting book. I may not have understood most of the physics stuff, but I don't think that matters anyway. It's a very compelling story with some memorable characters and an interesting "illness" (not really sure what else to call it). Sophie is a great main character and Luna makes it easy to relate to her and empathize with what she's going through. I absolutely love the character of Finny (much of it has to do with the fact that he's gay, so sue me) and he's a great friend and confidante for Sophie.
Of course, I can't leave out Walt, the shaman panda, because he's pretty darn awesome, insightful and witty. Her conversations with Walt and interactions with these other worlds really made me curious as to how it plays out in the real world. Occasionally Walt is given food from the real world and eats it; how do you explain the missing food? It's an interesting question and not one I think the book really addresses. Not that it matters that much.
It's a wonderful journey the reader goes on with Sophie, and luckily, it's not really hampered by a romance. There is a crush and some romance-y elements, but the reader doesn't really get to know the love interest too well (I can't even remember his name) but it's left on a hopeful note at the end of the book, which is nice.
Overall, a fascinating, smart debut and I'm excited to see what Luna has in store for us next!
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.