Let me preface this review by stating that I approached Jason Fagone’s Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America with the bias that comes from being a lover of cars, a believer in electric vehicles, and an XPRIZE contender.
One of Fagone’s strengths as a non-fiction writer is his ability to take fact and tell it in a way that reads like a novel, full of characters, dramatic scenes, a pace with much forward momentum, and even subtle parallels one would find in a great work of fiction.
Only this is real. It happened, mostly under the radar of the mass media. Fagone was there and dutifully soaked in the details, taking endless notes and fact checking like crazy afterwards to make sure he produced not only an engaging, entertaining read, but one built upon journalistic integrity.
It is a compelling account of a largely overlooked historic event. It is the tale of ordinary people with audacious dreams who stepped up to do what the major automotive manufacturers have not. And it is written in such a way that one does not need a background in engineering to understand and appreciate. Fagone is that good at translating the technical jargon.
Even though I was there for parts of the competition, even though I knew how the story ends, while listening to this audio book I found myself cheering the teams, on the verge of tears during one scene at knockout because other “characters” were crying, and giddy at the “race” itself. I was experiencing it again and yet for the first time, as if maybe, just maybe, the ending would be different for some teams.
I’m a natural pessimist, and yet upon finishing this book I came away with the feeling of a rekindled excitement, a hope for the future, and much, much love. The book, as I read it, is a success, and one I hope you will enjoy.