Book Reviews

Book Review: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter

The first adult novel by Cassandra Rose Clarke (The Assassin’s Curse, Our Lady of the Ice) earned a coveted nomination and also became a finalist for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award on the strength of its writing.  Readers to this new release of the book may find that its subject matter invites comparisons to Dick’s similarly-themed science fiction epic, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep. Both take place in a post-apocalyptic America rebuilt after disaster, and both involve robots that have evolved in serve the human population.  Unlike Dick’s novel, Clarke has a more benign vision of this future America, using hers to explore the nature of humanity and free will.

One summer evening, five-year old Caterina “Cat” Novak meets an experimental android named Finn whom her father has brought home as her tutor. Although Finn appears human, Cat is fearful of the silver and black-eyed being she believes to be a ghost; however, Finn soon becomes Cat’s sole companion and confidante in the isolated home she shares with her parents in the woods. Cat’s mother begins to fear about an inappropriate attachment and sends Cat to public school so she could socialize with children her own age. As Cat struggles to find normalcy and acceptance in her adolescence, and later adulthood, she finds herself in caught in forbidden territory when her relationship with Finn transgresses beyond mere friendship in a world increasingly reliant on machines for its care and sustenance.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a well-paced and thoughtfully-plotted novel that raises intriguing questions on the devastating effect that natural or ecological disaster can have on human rights and on the liberties that many take for granted.

//“>The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, Saga Press, $25.99 hardcover and $14.99 trade paperback, 9781481474986 (hc), 9781481461689 (pb)



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