Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review - Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is not the type of book that I generally read, but it was recommended by someone very special to me, so I read it.

We follow Charlie Gordon in his quest to becomeone more intelligent, remember the past his mind has locked away in an effort to protect him from himself, and cope with his new awareness of everything around him.

It's a sad story. It made me angry in many places and completely heartbroken in others. I "watched" as people he thought were friends made fun of him and treated him the way someone with compassion wouldn't even treat a dog. And I "watched" as he remembered horrible things from his past that his mental condition had allowed him to hide away in the dark recesses of his brain.

He struggles the entire book to break away from the old Charlie, the child like adult who wanted so much for everyone to like him. He struggles to remind everyone that he IS human. That he's NOT just a science experiment. He's not just another mouse running through a maze like his companion, Algernon. He's a living breathing person with thoughts and feelings and was so long before science got ahold of him.

Charlie is desperate for love and friendship but when faced with those things is unsure how to respond. Despite the "help" from those around him. He feels as if he's fighting with his old self to gain control over his own body. And he fears that he's losing.

It's an interesting book to read because you can literally SEE the transformation going on in his brain by reading his progress reports. It makes the book feel more personal, makes you feel closer to Charlie and more invested in his development. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in realistic science fiction. Is that even a thing? I'd really recommend it to anyone over the age of 18. No matter what genres you prefer. You won't be the same when you're finished with it.

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