Review: Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis:

Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence–a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon. As the treatment takes effect, Charlies intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?

Review: (contains mild spoilers!)

Oh this book! What a sad, emotional roller coaster book! 

The story starts out in a very melancholic tone, we see how Charlie, a retardant undergoes operation to improve his IQ, by tenfolds, and then struggle to comprehend his surroundings intellectually and emotionally. 

This book questions highly on scientific ethics related to artificial intelligence, and our natural instincts to fit in and not be lonely. I love how quick the plot is. You’ll see the deterioration in Algernon and how it affects Charlie too. You’ll see his confusion when people treated him as more of a lab rat than the soft human being he truly is. 

My most favourite scene has got to be the time Charlie went to a dinner party and talks about the relationship between intelligence and emotions. Because it is true, without emotions, intelligence is pretty much useless. And the book portrays that with the scientists involved and what were their initial intentions. 

It’s a very moving book that keeps you wanting more, turning the pages eagerly to know what will happen to Charlie. And the ending IS SO HEARTBREAKING, I can’t even begin to come terms on how sad I was when this book ended. 

I’d definitely recommend it as it is a great book that makes you wonder, if we should ever try to induce artificial intelligence and build ‘superior’ human beings. It puts into perspective what is our society doing now to help the mentally-retarded community and help them build their own lives? It’s a great insight into their world too, compared to the other mentally-challenged groups you usually see in other reads.

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