Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter


The Mad Scientist’s DaughterAuthor: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Published: January 29th 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository



The Mad Scientist’s Daughter takes place over the course of many years. At the beginning, Cat, the daughter of two accomplished scientist, is only eight years old. Her father brings home a strange man, Finn, to live with them and be Cat’s tutor. At first, Cat doesn’t understand what this man is, his reactions and behavior unlike anything she’d ever seen before. As she grows up, what he is no longer matters as Finn becomes her anchor, that one immutable thing that holds together her very chaotic, directionless life.

Cat spends most of the book in utter denial, running from her feelings toward Finn and convincing herself that, as an android, he can’t possibly feel the same. We see her in different stages of her life and thus get to meet many sides of her. She struggles for most of her life, doing everything she deems normal and acceptable, all the while punishing herself for loving something unnatural, an abomination. While running from herself and from Finn, Cat makes a series of selfish choices and ends up hurting the only person who’s ever shown her a modicum of respect.

As a character, Cat is a hive of conflicting emotions, ranging from guilt and self-disgust to love and acceptance. Try as she might, she can’t quite hide her emotions from the world, especially when someone threatens or insults Finn. Her fierce protectiveness and the readiness with which she jumps to his defense give her away each and every time.

Beneath everything Cat does is a deep self-hatred and desperate need for approval. At its very core, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a romance, but a desperate, torturous one that can be very hard to read.

Finn isn’t much of a hero, but not through any fault of his own. Not quite an android and not quite a man, one of a kind in every way, he is everybody’s victim, even those who love him the most. His emotional awakening comes at a very high price because it leads him to realize that everyone who was ever supposed to care for him and protect him either abandoned him or used him in the worst possible way.

It’s clear by now that Cat is no heroine either. Quite the contrary, I’m afraid. One bad choice after another and one train wreck of a marriage do not a heroine make. Even when she supposedly turned a new leaf, some of her choices deeply troubled me and I’m surprised Clarke never addressed them.

Overall, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is by no means a light-hearted, fun book, and it’s certainly not young adult. Had I known how complicated and angst-filled it was, I doubt I would have picked it up, but now I’m glad I did.


28 comments:

  1. Yeah, I'm generally not a complicated, angst-filled kind of gal. Much prefer the fun. Still, it sounds intriguing...though I'm not sure I'll pick it up. Great review, though!

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  2. I'm glad you were able to enjoy this one, Maja! As you know, it was unfortunately not a book that worked out for me, but I do like that you approach this very objectively. I think if I had been able to enjoy Cat the way she was portrayed, I'd definitely have enjoyed this novel, rather that dislike it. Either way, I haven't given up on Clarke - especially with The Pirate's Wish out soon! I can't wait! :D

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  3. Hmmm, well should I be in the mood for a very angsty book I'll try this one. I'm in that mood more often than not so...

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  4. I can't handle the angst...I was going to say lately but I don't think I can handle it ever. This does sound like a really interesting premise for a book and I'm always on board for sci-fi elements, though it doesn't sound like that is a large portion of this novel. I feel inclined to mention that immediately after you used the words 'love' and 'android', my mind went to really awkward places. Here's to hoping those are areas left unexplored.

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    1. Hahah, no, not really, but keep on thinking that if it makes you feel better.

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  5. Great review. I am so excited to read this. Thanks for sharing it.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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  6. Oh this sounds like my cup of tea! I love it when characters hate themselves lol. No but for real, they make such compelling characters and if done right they make us feel for them and I just get really in tuned with their emotions. Self destruction is fascinating! Bahaha

    Glad you enjoyed this one I had my eye on it but I was waiting for some feedback from my trusted reviewers! ;)

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  7. I've always had the impression that this book is YA. And while I can read angst at any given day, no problem, I might have to postpone reading this one. I've just been reading a lot of it lately.

    Great review, as always. :)

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  8. Huh, I wondered what this book was about. Yeah after working at a school full time, I don't think I could handle much more angst than necessary. It takes a toll on you. ;) So, I'm going to take a pass on this one.

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  9. I keep getting this one confused with The Madman's Daughter Maja! Sometimes I'm in the mood for something dark and emotionally intense, so I'm adding this one to my list for when that mood strikes. It's good to know that despite it not being what you were expecting that you still ended up glad you gave it a try:)

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  10. Wow for some reason I thought this was YA as well. I've seen mixed reviews on this one, and the negative reviews turned me off, which is a shame because the synopsis sounds like exactly my kind of book. I'm really encouraged to see that you found enough redeeming qualities in the story to be glad you had read it in the end. I think I am going to give this one a try after all. Thanks for the thoughtful review! :-)

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  11. It does sound angst filled. Not sure I like that, but you make it sound intriguing enough. Especially Finn's character. Although it does sound dark enough for me. :D I'm also with Jenny... I was confusing it with Madman's Daughter. Will have to keep that straight. :D

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  12. I wavered on picking this one up... sounds like it is still a good edgy read but not perfect. I am really liking the stuff coming from Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot and I did enjoy Ms. Clarke's other book even though it left a bunch of unanswered questions as well. Funny we have Mad Scientist's Daughter and Madman's Daughter...I am confused!

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  13. I didn't realise that this book would be full of so much angst either before I picked it up, but I loved the idea of it's concept and I adored Clarke's previous book, so I knew I would have to give this book a go too. I think I had a lot of the same issues that you did, the middle seemed to drag on for so much and Cat's erratic behaviour became hugely grating, but like you I am glad I still give this book a try! Lovely review Maja! :)

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  14. I keep confusing this one with the Madman's Daughter..I had no idea this one was filled with so much angst and it is certainly darker then I thought. Maybe because I am confusing the two. LOL Sorry this one didn't rock your world.

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  15. Strange indeed how we managed to post our reviews on the exact same day, but I'd say we both take very different views on the book.

    I think you cut to the core very precisely whilst I waffle a little more. haha. I love your review and I think you capture the points that make this novel good and bad, whilst I'm blinded a little by my love.

    I definitely have to agree with you about the angst, but I'm glad I read it because it lasted quite a while with me after reading.

    Brilliant review, Maja! :)

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  16. I think this one is going to make me cry. I know you weren't blown away by it, but your review is so lovely and I've been in such an angsty mood! I think I want to give it a try! Desperate, tortuous, hard-to-read romance?? *raises hand* Yes, please! Over here! Geez, I don't know what is wrong with me lately! Really awesome review!

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  17. Glad you enjoyed despite the issues. I do high angst but it is hard if you aren't expecting it.
    Cat sounds a lot like me but working through my issues.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  18. This sounds really sad, and definitely angsty, which I'm not a fan of either, but you have me so intrigued now. Great review Maja, I think I'll have to try to fit this one in somewhere now :)

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  19. This sounds actually like something I would really enjoy. I always like these type of self-hatred, strange characters, because they are so completely different. I also like the idea of this android and I can't wait to see how this works out. Most of the books I read aren't fluffy and fun, so I think I can handle (and enjoy) this one. Thanks for the awesome review!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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  20. Wow, I'm surprised that I haven't heard much of this one before your review, Maja! It sounds really unique though, and I love the concept of following the main character from childhood to adulthood. However, angst filled? That doesn't really sound like my thing. And I get easily irritated by main characters, especially those that make stupid mistake after stupid mistake. However, the grittiness and uniqueness of the romance is really intriguing me, so I may end up giving this one a try.

    Fabulous review, thanks for getting my interested piqued in this one, Maja! <3

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  21. I have only seen a negative review for this one and I know it's not for me, but I'm glad you were still able to enjoy it a bit.

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  22. I've seen other reviews of this one around. And I think that I like that it's a little dark. Thanks for the great review Maja. :)

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  23. I read Clarke's The Assassin's Curse and while I liked it, there were a couple of issues I had with it. The Mad Scientist's Daughter sounds very different and I don't think I'd like Cat very much. I think I'll pass on this one but thanks for the review, Maja.

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  24. This looks very good! I can't believe I've never seen it around . Thanks for the lovely review Maja

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  25. Wow, this sounds completely unlike The Assassin's Curse, which I felt was very fun and light, so I'm surprised. But also very much interested in seeing a different side from Cassandra Rose Clarke because I liked her writing in The Assassin's Curse. I'm wondering now if I'll like these non-hero character and I'm not sure - could go either way. I'll have to wait and see for myself, I guess! Thanks for this excellent review, Maja!

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  26. I'm glad that you were able to enjoy this one more than I was, Maja. I think I went in with the wrong mindset, not realizing how romance focused it would be, and then I just couldn't get past my dislike of Cat. Ah well, we can't win them all.

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  27. I remember reading your review on Goodreads a little while back, and it seems, since, it has split most readers. I'm not entirely sure now if it would be for me. I have to admit that the main reason I was curious about this book was because I enjoyed Clarke's YA release. But maybe this is a little too angsty for me? I know I have been craving something light-hearted recently! Great review, Maja.

    On a side note, I'm excited to see that you're reading Prodigy. I thought it was better than the first. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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