No matter how much knowledge we accumulate, there's always a void of what we do not know — a black hole that can never be fully understood. The book conveys this idea through a series of unconnected stories spanning chemistry, mathematics, and physics. It reads like a novel, because eventually, it becomes one. It's best thought of as an alternate history, with many very real facts interspersed.
I can't fault Labatut for this — the perspective he offers transcends facts and historical truth, so he tells the stories he wishes to tell to illustrate his greater truth. However, fundamentally, it's a novel that intersects with truth, but charts its own path. I knew about some of the stories he told, so this was unsettling at times. It felt like I was learning about the real world, with random embellishments thrown in.
This book may resonate with scientifically-curious people who want a story over specific facts. For those who want fictional explorations into the limits of knowledge, or actual histories of the limits of our knowledge, I suspect there's better books out there.