Monday, 4 November 2013

Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Title: The Mad Scientist's Daughter
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: January 29th, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
Buy: Amazon | BookDepository

Goodreads Summary

"Cat, this is Finn. He's going to be your tutor."

Finn looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is now to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion...and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world, and in Cat's heart.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve read this book and I still don’t feel ready to write a review. I’d rather just post all the quotes I collected and force people to read this book. Because yes this book was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I knew that would be the case before I went in (I have good instincts okay?) but that still didn’t prepare me for the amount of love I would feel for this book.

I’ll admit I didn’t cry while reading it but I wanted to. I had class right after I finished this book and I was so worried I’d start bawling right in the middle of, and I did come close to doing just that. Even thinking about this book just makes me wish I could hug someone who understands why this book is so fucking special.

The thing is that there isn’t a particular scene or chapter that breaks your heart. The WHOLE book is heartbreaking. Finn is. Cat is. Everything about this book is. But then there are also those parts that make your heart soar.

I actually tried to take it slow but gave in to my need to know what became of Finn and Cat, but the book did last 3 days.

This book takes place over the course of many years, from when Cat was a bright little kid to when Cat became a subdued adult.

Cat is the daughter of two scientists. They’ve never had enough time for her and they don’t really believe in sending her to school so they get her a robot tutor, Finn. She thought he was a ghost at first and was afraid of him, she even went so far as to take him to a graveyard to see if he would move on but he didn’t. The fact that he could tell her tons of story convinced her to finally be his ‘friend’. She never really realized he was a robot though so she never understood why he gave her such detailed answers.  Here is a quote from the first scene that broke my heart.
      “You’re boring,” she told him.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t wish to be.”
She learned at a dinner party that he wasn’t in fact a ghost but a robot and her first reaction was relief, she was relieved that her most favorite person in the world wasn’t in fact dead
“I don’t mind that you’re a computer.” She ran up to him and wrapped her arms around his legs, leaning her head against his hip. He put his hand on her shoulder, and the weight of it seemed to sink straight through her.
“I’m glad,” he said.
But as she becomes older, she finds herself attracted to Finn which makes things awkward because how can you be attracted to a robot? I am not even going to rebuke her for thinking like that because there was a point early on in the book where I pondered that myself, I fell in love with Finn quite early on but it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the idea. But even with her own confusion about her feelings she was always protective of Finn.
She didn’t trust the grown-ups waiting in the house, the people who knew Finn for what he was the minute they laid eyes on him, the people who called him it.
But as she matures into an adult her parents start paying more attention to her. They don’t approve of her relationship with Finn and think she should spend time with people her own age. So after years of being homeschooled by Finn, she is forced to go to school where she doesn’t get along with most people. She even gets into a fist fight with someone who dared to insult Finn.

 Before I go on, I just want to mention her parents. They come off as unfeeling at first and I didn’t like them much but Clarke pulls it off, she doesn’t cast them as the normal cliché of absent parents, you come to understand why her mom was the way she was and even love her father, the mad scientist.

I could probably base this whole review on Cat’s life and fill it up with quotes but the point is that Cat spends so much of her time running away from how she feels about Finn. She dates people that look like Finn, marries a guy she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about who also turns out to be abusive. You want to shake her but at the same time you want to hug her. She is so lonely for most part of the book, going through the motions and not even realizing what she really wants. When she finally stands up for herself, I was so happy. I practically jumped out of my chair and.. ran around??

The thing about Cat is that she is such a human character, she screws up, runs away from her feelings, constantly deludes herself, isn’t particularly strong, in fact I don’t think you’re meant to like her, just understand her, but I ended up loving her even though she bothered me some. It’s because of the realness of her character.

“Yes,” he said. “A violation.” His eyes vibrated. “But how could you know that? You can’t be shut off.”

While this book is based on Cat’s life, this is definitely Finn’s story, and my god it’s a heartbreaking story. I realize I’ve already said that a gazillion times and now it just seems like I am shoving it down your throats but I feel the need to reinforce the point because it’s Finn that constantly breaks your heart, not Cat. The thing about Finn is that he is a pretty mysterious character, half the time it’s hard to figure out what goes on in his mind aside from his obvious feelings for Cat, but even then you cannot help but feel for him. He seems so human to us readers but people in his world don’t see that, to him he is just a mechanical unfeeling object and they treat him as such. And for the most part Finn readily accepts that because that’s what he feels defines him.

I realize I haven’t talked about much else, like perhaps the plot but I don’t even know where to begin with that, this book is like a coming of age story. Except both characters are adults (well one is a robot but you get what I mean). It’s a story about opening up to true love and looking beyond just yourself. It’s a story about finally being happy again. It’s a story about many goddamned things. Honestly this book reminds me so much of Artificial Intelligence, which was one of my all-time favorite movies.

I don’t even think what I wrote can be called a review, it’s hardly coherent and it was emotionally exhausting having to revisit everything that this book makes me feel, in fact I had goosebumps almost the whole time I was writing this review and right now my heart just feels heavy.

This book is heartbreaking and wonderful and I wish I could marry it (Finn). There I said it. It’ll stay with me for a long long time but if you’re not one for an angst filled book even when the main character is a grownup, skip this, or if you can make an exception (like I did), DO IT, READ THIS BOOK, LOVE IT, and cry with me over it.

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