• Author: Ray Melnik
    ISBN: 978-1-4401-2856-1
    Publisher: iUniverse

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Ray Melnik’s To Your Own Self Be True is a great sequel to his first novel The Room that I reviewed a few years ago, which incorporated reference to the string theory and how an event in one’s life can determine the course of one’s future. With To Your Own Self Be True, Melnik goes one step further and interweaves into this story the M-theory that is an extension of the string theory. To some scientists M-theory is a radical theory of physics, however, it is somewhat controversial in the absence of experimental backup. On the other hand, if it were to be experimentally substantiated, it would represent remarkable advances in science.

Some of the characters featured in The Room, which had taken place fifteen years earlier, reappear in the year 2021 with To Your Own Self Be True. In The Room, Harry Ladd, who is a self-taught scientist and is deeply committed to reason as opposed to superstition, experiences an astonishing cosmic event in a bedroom of his dying mother’s home.

As we begin our reading of To Your Own Self Be True Harry’s daughter Kaela, a brilliant twenty-three year old theoretical physicist employed in physics research by a prestigious company, SciLab, narrates how her father revealed to her this extraordinary experience. As Kaela remarks:  “The most reasonable man I have ever known just told me the most extraordinary thing I’d ever heard. Nothing I encountered before lends itself to believing that the cosmos can do anything but obey the laws of physics. But perhaps it was something yet to be discovered.”

Among Karla’s tasks at SciLab is the testing out of a new and unique Universal Personal Assistant (UPA) whom she has named Adam and who takes on a human personality.  We discover that he has the ability to interpret data and coupled with his mathematical and scientific aptitudes will prove to be quite helpful in aiding Kaela solve her father’s mysterious experience. Kaela is also assigned to work on a project with the most established scientist in the company, the forty-year old Dr. Kyle Trace who has contributed great insights with his published papers on quantum physics.  She is quite amazed with the assignment and wonders why her superior, Dr. Carl Greene had chosen her to participate. Moreover, Kaela is speechless when Dr. Greene decides to entrust her with making a presentation to a company that SciLab hopes will continue to financially support it. It is here where the plot moves in a different direction when Kaela meets up with a young man, Rael. Kaela immediately takes a liking to Rael and helps him find employment with SciLab. Rael likewise has a personal secret and unbeknown to Kaela, he is able to leverage this secret in order to secure the needed financing for SciLab pertaining to Dr. Trace’s projects.

As Kaela begins her assignment with Dr. Trace, she finds out that he had been involved in various experiments that transpired at the same time as her father’s extraordinary experience and that may have been related to this experience. Furthermore, Dr. Trace informs her that he likewise had a similar experience as her father’s. The two decide to embark on another try pertaining to one of these fascinating experiments in order to ascertain if it could in fact be replicated. The results turn out to be quite different than what Kaela had expected.

Yes, I have to candidly admit that some parts of the novel left me quite baffled with the author’s overdose of scientific jargon, but then again I was never a very strong science student! Nonetheless, I did stay with it as the novel did spike my interest and curiosity in the M-theory and forced me to do some research in order to secure a better grasp of the plot. Should Melnik’s novel be classified as science fiction? Possibly, but it is also serves as a catalyst in motivating us to appreciate and look at life from a different perspective. As Melnik comments in his Prologue, his protagonist Kaela challenges us to think of a world where people of reason are given a chance to influence the course of history as much as those of faith. What is more is that there are so many tantalizing and complex undercurrents that you will enjoy wondering what is exactly going on here? In addition, Melnik has created a fully believable protagonist who you can’t help liking and admiring for her down-to-earth attitudes and take on life. His ability to reveal her character with tiny gestures and poignant reflection adds to her legitimacy. There is a great deal in this book to ponder over and it should make for some very interesting dinner table conversations.

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 To read Norm's Interview With Ray Melnik CLICK HERE