Contemporaries, Reviews, YA

Review: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant


Imagine having visions every time you touch someone. Imagine seeing a fractal, a mathematical pattern that somehow reveals a person’s deepest and darkest secrets as soon as you pick up their jacket. Then imagine finding the one person ever who doesn´t cause that reaction.

“I envy how touch is, for most people, as easy as breathing.”

Zenn Diagram is a book about math nerd Eva, who gets these fractal visions every time she touches something. But, instead of letting it get to her, she utilizes her ability to become the best math tutor in town as she can pick up her student´s calculator – which only absorbs their mathematical frustrations and thoughts (you´ll get it when you read) – and know immediately what help they need.

But, of course, being a teenage girl, Eva has had thoughts about her inability to touch someone, about being able to run her hands over a boys shoulders without knowing his deepest secrets. In walks Zenn, who she is supposed to tutor, and it turns out they have a lot more in common than any of them anticipated.

Zenn Diagram was for me a fairly quick and nice little read. It wasn´t exactly an OMG-EVERYONE-HAS-TO-READ-THIS-IMMEADIETLY-book, but it was still very entertaining and the idea and concept of Eva´s condition as well as the plot twist by the end were something I hadn´t seen before. Sure, just like most contemporaries they have a tendency to become the same as one another after a while but personally, I felt this one still had enough unique elements to keep me interested and from feeling like I had already read it before.


I´d put some criticism to this for not having all that much diversity and for having some parts that were a little cliché. For example, it feels like there isn´t a single YA contemporary where there aren’t completely dysfunctional families. It also bugged me a little with how it ended.

Towards the end, a lot of things escalated and got really exciting and kind of confusing (in a good way) but then it all ended quite abruptly. I´m not sure if perhaps this was Brant´s intention but I´d like to have seen a slower developing ending or perhaps an epilog as it´s a standalone with a lot of complications leading to the end, just to wrap things up more and feel like things solved themselves more.


I know this might be a small-ish detail, but (small spoiler!) at one point Eva gets to the point of having sex with ~someone~ and I just want to say hat´s off to Wendy Brant for making sexual consent such an easy and obvious thing! A lot of times in novels consent is just skipped and while I get that things can go down differently in the heat of things, I think showing how simple and obvious and how it isn´t weird of whatever is really important for Young Adults especially. So, I really appreciated Brant including it here in such a good way.

I also really liked the fast paced writing and Eva as a character. Because of her condition, I think she learned a lot how to be independent as she is a really good role model showing that it´s okay to be a nerd – that it´s even a good thing being called nerd today – and that not following the norm of loving beauty and makeup is totally fine. Eva wants to do math, so Eva does math and that is totally fine.

At one point Eva says: “and sadly beauty is the one thing that we, as a gender, work on the hardest” and I think that is quite well said. That´s not to undermine beauty or say a genuine interest in beauty is bad, but it does kind of sum up the problem of women working so hard on “being beautiful” even if they don´t really do it for their selves.

And I just really like independent women doing their thing, basically.

4/5 stars.


(Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review)



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