Doughnut by Tom Holt

I have never read Tom Holt’s books before and I’m not sure I had heard of him either. His books are usually humorous fantasy, many of them based on various myths or stories. But I saw his latest book, Doughnut, on the shelf and it looked interesting. Reading the book, the humor seems mainly based on putting people in a ridiculous situation and it doesn’t always seem to work. I enjoyed reading the book, but near the end, the ridiculousness collapsed on itself and made it hard to read and even harder to figure out what was going on. Let’s check it out.

Theo Bernstein used to work for the Very Very Large Hadron Collider. Until he made a decimal point error and blew it up. The fallout from the explosion cost him his job, his wife and most of his money. He’s working at minimum wage job of physical labor before he’s told that his mentor (Professor Pieter van Goyen) has died and left him a safe deposit box. In the box are a pink compact, a small glass bottle, an apple and a letter). Based off the letter, he takes the bottle and compact (he ate the apple) and heads to work at a hotel mentioned in Professor van Goyen’s letter.

This leads him to a revolutionary mathematical equation that Professor van Goyen developed which can transport a person to a manufactured reality by looking into the bottle. The plot then devolves into a mess with fake math that can lead to real events. Also Bernstein has to deal with his insane sister Janine and his dead brother Max. The plot just keeps getting more and more ridiculous until it collapses under its own weight and no one know exactly what’s going on by the end.

Overall, it’s a nice silly book that reads like it could have used a few more passes in the editing. Bernstein isn’t really that developed of a character, but he’s the most well-rounded in the book. Bernstein alternates between being the master of his fate to a pawn in a game between everyone else with alarming speed. Every time you think you understand where the book is going, it doubles back on itself and frustrates you by the added lack of sense or complete rewriting of what you previously knew. It is a fun read, but I’m not sure that makes up for the story or lack of characterization. Mildly recommended.