Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Question by R. Breuer Stearns : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Question: If You Could Have the Answer to Only One Question What Would You Ask?

AUTHOR: R. Breuer Stearns


GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Digital


HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura Fabiani of iRead tours for this review copy


THE QUESTION invites readers to consider this premise:

If you could have the answer to one question, and only one question, what would you ask... and who would try to stop you from asking it?

To what extremes would they go?

THE QUESTION is a thriller that explores a new way of thinking, a method powerful enough to answer very complex questions . . . perhaps powerful enough to solve the universe's most fundamental mysteries . . . perhaps powerful enough to resolve religions' most beguiling unknowns.

THE QUESTION is an adventure story . . . fiction that you may wish, may believe, may know, is true. The narrative occurs in the present, with scenes in California, Washington, D.C., Paris, Shanghai, New York, and Afghanistan.

The story is aimed at high-school and older readers and contains some graphic violence and occasional sexual allusions. The plot is action-oriented with an element of scientific fantasy, similar to Jack Finney's "Time and Again." The prose is crisply written, professionally edited, and organized into movie-scene chapters.

THE QUESTION is ideal reading for anyone who is curious . . . for those who gaze into the cosmos at night and wonder . . . for those who look into the mirror and imagine . . . for those whose hearts beat faster when confronting the unknown . . . for readers who enjoy a fast paced, contemporary thriller that inspires them to think.


Hands down, this book has one of the most interesting summaries I have come across in recent times. Though it appealed to the sceptic in me, I took this book simply for the pleasure of reading something confounding and retrospective.

The cover image is simple and I think reflects the book's contents well. The chapters are each numbered with a question mark and that, according to me speaks a lot about how this book is going to be.

The Question - the one question everyone will ask. What would that be? In this world of more than 7 billion people (whose thoughts alone are more than enough to create a lot of chaos) what would THE question be? Is there anyone who knows what it is? Once the question is known, what would the answer be? What if it wasn't only the humans who participated, but also the other living things - those that we assume are lesser beings?

If the above paragraph confused you, you probably would not like this book. The overall tone of the book (that surprisingly manages to do justice to the summary) is thrilling and yet, somewhat retrospective. UNITY - or the power of many people joined together. What would it achieve? Are there people who wish you would not find out THE question? What would they do to prevent you from that? (Yes, these lines are paraphrased from the summary). This was the juncture where I knew the book would turn to terrorism. After all, large scale, uncalled for violence is terrorism, no matter where it originates, who it affects or what the effects are.

The opening chapter took me in completely until that one word in the last sentence that alerted me to what was actually being talked about. And from then on, I began reading the other chapters carefully. This somehow attracted me to the book more than the summary, this subtle word play. The beginning chapters are slow and tend to get confusing. But once you get past the hurdle, the book picks up pace. For a thriller, the book takes up too long to set the stage and get people to understand what is what. But even then, casual readers might not pick up a few important hints thrown completely at random and in no particular order.

The book concluded ambiguously, much like THE question itself would. To each, his own. The story concludes well but the questions still need answering. To give a word of praise to the book, it sets the right mood for retrospection and analysis. The language is great and the proofreading near perfect, but the first few chapters would work better with tighter editing.

  • The Summary
  • The first chapter - this set the mood for reading perfectly
  • The premise and the story itself

  • Editing needs to be tighter
  • The book takes a huge amount of time to come to the point. This can get a bit dreary at times.
  • While setting the scene can be done in minutes in a motion picture, describing scenes takes a lot longer in text. I think this is one of the reasons why the first few chapters seem so long - there are other ways to split up and give the description.

A really good book - but not one you should attempt to read on a fuzzy mind, or as a light evening read. It takes more than one reading to appreciate the work that has been put into writing it.

RATING: 3.8/5


R. Breuer Stearns is an investor and author.

Mr. Stearns graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover (1970), Harvard University (AB, 1974), University of Chicago (MBA, 1977), and DePaul University College of Law (JD, 1979). He rapidly ascended on Wall Street in the 1980’s, serving as Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions at Lehman Brothers and Head of Investment Banking (North America) at UBS Securities. While living in New York, he founded “Terrific Teachers, Inc.,” a foundation dedicated to identifying and rewarding the best of the best of the city’s public high school teachers.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Stearns launched a private investment bank in the former Soviet Union. He spent the early 1990’s seeking to marry emerging science, primarily emanating from Russia’s Defense sector, with Western capital. During this period, Mr. Stearns made a small fortune, albeit from a larger one. The venture provided a remarkable lesson in hubris, a tremendous reservoir of internal strength, and first-hand source material for Mr. Stearns’ first book, Winning Smart After Losing Big (Encounter Books, Beijing University Press).

Subsequently, Mr. Stearns served as Chief Financial Officer of The Dial Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of Columbia/HCA Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of PacifiCare, Inc., President and Chief Operating Officer of Vascular Genetics, Inc., and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quepasa Corporation (QPSA:Amex).

Mr. Stearns is a Founder of VestaPoint Capital LLC, a family of investment funds focused on real estate development. He lives in Arizona with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a horse. He travels extensively and is intensely curious.


PRICE$3.98 for Kindle, $10.99 for Paperback


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