Sunday, March 9, 2008

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keyes

Pages: 311

Genre: Fiction/Sci Fi. & Fantasy

Personal Rating: 4/5

Awards: Nebula & Hugo

From the back cover:

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, Charlie's 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?

What a unique and interesting book! This story follows Charlie, a mentally retarded 30 something who has an operation performed (on his brain) to increase his intelligence. Most of the story is related through Charlie's progress reports as he sees events unfolding.

As Charlie's intelligence increases, so does his memory. He begins to remember his childhood and how he came to be "abandoned" by his family and to understand why he has sexual issues. He also starts to questions the friends he used to have since they used to laugh at him and make him do silly things (since he didn't know better). This part of the story is sad. The realization of how we/some treat mentally retarded individuals.

This book opens up so many ethical and moral questions related to experimentation, the betterment of society and the worth of an individual. Who determines that worth?

If you haven't read this one I would definitely add it to your list!


Jeane said...

I love this book! I especially liked how the writing style and vocabulary improved as Charlie's intelligence increased- it really reflected what might have been going on in his mind.

Booklogged said...

I really liked this one, too. When I was in high school (I think that was the time period) I watched the movie and was awed by it. After reading the book this last year, I watched the movie again. It was still good but very dated. Cliff Robertson did an great job in the movie.

Nymeth said...

This sounds wonderful! I will most definitely add it to my list.

Juli said...

I never thought about watching the movie!

Nymeth--Yes, add it to your list!

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