The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

clauleesi's review

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My rating: 4.5 stars

Have you ever read something that changed how you view an entire genre? Something that made you question if maybe, just maybe, you were wrong about what you thought absolutely wasn't for you. Well, I don't really do robots - or aliens or zombies for that matter, just because I am pretty much terrified of them. But then my one of my collegues, who love retellings, smut and urban fantasy, urged me to read this book because she liked it so much and I just got a tiny bit curious.

Long story short, I am so glad that I read this book, because it broke my heart multiple times and then mended it all together again.

This is the story about Caterina, a rich, pretty girl with a father who happens to be a brilliant scientist that one day brings home an android named Finn. Finn is the mirror image of a normal, handsome human boy and it is decided that he is to be Cat's tutor.

As she grows up with him, she forms a strange and close relationship with him in a world that is torn on how to even treat these robots and androids - and Cat has to decide for herself how to view and treat these new creatures.

I was pulled in from the very first page. I would have preferred the chapters to be a tad bit shorter, but I did still fly through this in a fairly short time. The writing manages to be so simplistic and intricate at the same time, with a melancholic vibe to it that reminded me very much of [a:Tabitha Suzuma|599916|Tabitha Suzuma|]'s book [b:Forbidden|7600924|Forbidden|Tabitha Suzuma||10018976], which I absolutely loved.

A fair warning, even though this was sweet at times, this is not a fluffy or cutesy or fun book. It will break your heart and I had to fight back tears multiple times. It's an extremely frustrating book, that also poses a huge ethical question behind everything - how human, or alive, could robots ever truly be?

I've always been a bit iffy on that question, which maybe is why I had such a hard time with the entire robot-thing. But after this book, after Finn - I think I might just have converted. Because Clarke writes her characters with such extreme skill, that even though they're all complex and real, Finn is the most human and the one that draws the most sympathy from me. I loved him so much that it's actually hard to explain. Right from the beginning, but especially at the end. He was just so good that it actually made me want to become a better person myself - because here is this AI, this robot, who isn't supposed to feel or care about anything, and he manages to treat people with such tenderness anyway.

Cat, on the other hand, infuriated me. I've seen that many people seem to hate her, which I didn't - she irritated me, I would have loved to shake some sense into her, but I do get why she acted the way she did and she was just so real. So complicated and cold, selfish and stupid at times. Although I love that we got to follow her from the tender age of five, Cat was the one who made this novel so frustrating for me - but I also do appreciate her as a character that has her flaws and actually develops. What I found so interesting was that, in my opinion, she was the more "robotic" one. The one that had more trouble showing her emotions. The ice queen.

The romance is heartbreaking, sweet, painful and sensual. It has been a long time since I read a book with this much chemistry between two characters - I even found myself rereading the lines over and over again because I was so taken with the interaction and dialogues between them. It was such a slowburn. It made me blush, and it made me cry. It made me believe that it could actually be possible.

I do have to give a small mention to Cat's father though - because of the title, I thought he was going to be some madman, but he was just so well written and kind. He wasn't the perfect dad, but still a great father figure to both Cat and Finn. Of course, the relationship he had with Finn tore my heart in two the most.

“I have never endeavoured to be human, a fact Daniel had difficulty accepting at first. However, he never looked down on me for it. And he made his mistakes. But ultimately he loved me - for who I am, for what I am. He loved me, not some version of me that will never exist. And for that I am grateful. It is a mark of true humanity.”

I am left shaken after reading this book. It wasn't perfect, but beside the frustration that came from me caring to much about this characters, I can't really think of any faults right now. I doubt I will ever forget it.

neural_lauren_unreal's review

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如果觉醒后的Finn一去不回头,我反而对他有点尊重。可惜结尾太降智,拉低了整个故事的格调,最后变成了一个玛丽苏和对她不离不弃、几乎无自尊可言的“Nice Guy”的故事——虽然这个Nice Guy非常博学而且seems to have great bedside manners...

这里的读者们都很喜欢乃至于怜爱Finn,不过所有地球人都喜欢这种聪明理智善解人意随叫随到还有个"tragic backstory"的companion吧,appeal to the reader's narcissism也是作者格调不够高的另一个体现了。

allietriestoread's review

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I have a soft spot for stories that make me feel like I’m growing up with the characters so this one was exactly what I needed.

I adored Cat. She had my heart right from the very beginning to the very last sentence. Her relationship with Finn was so pure and true that I could wholeheartedly feel the love they had for each other and also the pain that they had to go through.

I loved the relationship between Cat and her parents, (especially her father) the way she dealt with grief, and the way she fought for herself and managed to get out of toxic and abusive relationships to take control of her own life.

The writing was beautiful. The plot was intriguing. The characters were so...human.

This is definitely a solid 5-star read and worth every single tear I’ve cried.

djinnia's review

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I was really disappointed in the book. I loved the premise of this story. It's the ultimate star-crossed love story, but I lost interest when Cat grew up and started sleeping around. It bugged me. And then the rest of the story i had to skim 'til near the end.

cuddlesome's review

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DNF at 30% in. Maybe I'll come back to this at some point, maybe not. As with so many books that I end up giving up on I really wanted to like this, but despite the subject matter (I really love androids/robots/etc and romance) and at times fun writing style I just can't get into it.

The main character, Cat, doesn't appeal to me. Being attached to her as a POV character stopped being bearable once she went from being a rebellious artsy child to a rebellious artsy high schooler. I'm sure some people like this archetype, but it grates on me pretty badly.

The issue of Finn (the android's) sentience and ability to consent were hazy. It's lampshaded that he's basically a really obedient butler. It made me uncomfortable in a way that I think is intentional but still unpleasant to experience. If I remember right, Cat is six at the beginning of the book, and by the time she's graduated from high school she's
Spoilerhaving sex with him
which would make him around twelve-ish. I know that he's a robot and doesn't necessarily have the same mental age as the amount of time he has spent "alive," so to speak, but still, weird. To ramble about the TMI stuff a bit more--
Spoilerit's explained that he "can" have sex but not really well-explained or even implied how beyond penetration being hinted at. Not that I want a super detailed pornographic description of his junk, but it's made clear he doesn't have a heart and therefore probably doesn't have blood. How do you get it up, robot man? It just felt odd to me that this book, which has a lot of sex, by the way, went to the trouble of having scenes like this even take place when they hardly make sense in any capacity.

Maybe the worldbuilding gets more developed as time goes on, but I felt like I had no idea what's going on with robot technology in this world. People seem aware that they exist but it's insisted that Finn is the only one of his kind. But why, though? Why is this apparently super-unique marvel being relegated to being a kid's tutor and a lab assistant? Maybe this gets answered further along in the story, but I'm not really engaged enough to care.

The title felt irrelevant to the plot of the story, at least from what I read. Cat's father is barely a character and the only indication of him being a mad scientist is given by a minor character who Cat promptly beats up and we never hear from him again. Capitalizing on the "The ___'s Daughter" title trend? Probably.

If I can say one good thing about this book, beyond liking the premise, there is some really pretty imagery to be had here, things that will stick with me for a while, I'm sure. "The dresses looked like rows of ice cream" and "...any ghost who could retrieve an extinct species of butterfly, extracting it from the blossoms of graveyard flowers, was the sort of ghost it might be handy to have around" I thought were especially pretty. I'm so bummed out that the characters and strange handling of the sci-fi elements don't measure up to this imagery.

cher_n_books's review

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Very unique and different plot which is so refreshing, here lately especially it seems. I absolutely love fiction that makes you think, which is exactly what Cassandra Clarke does with this novel. What exactly is humanity? Where does the line get drawn that defines sentience and the rights that naturally should go along with it? I enjoyed this one and recommend it to anyone wanting to read something outside the box.

samiism's review

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I read this book in four hours on 9/8/14. Nonstop, while at work. My head is reeling right now, and so is my heart. I don't even know how to properly describe the emotional rollercoaster this book put me in.

The writing is poignant and simple. The characters are well-fleshed out without drowning the readers into too much detail. Cat the ice queen was especially tragic; I didn't know if I liked her or hated her. Finn broke my heart. The relationship felt real. I understood Cat's selfish actions because I've been there, and I understood why Finn did what he did, because I would have done the same. They were both relatable, and this kind of realism was what made me not want to put the book down.

If you liked the film Bicentennial Man, you'll most likely adore this book, too. They're very similar. And if you haven't seen that movie, you should ASAP.

ginnikin's review

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I don't know what to do with this. If Carry had been male, it would have been a cliché white male angst "literary " story. Still, I enjoyed the writing.

catpingu's review

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At first, I found it really disturbing. I couldn't help but picture androids like C-3PO, but painted with human skin. So, reading the parts involving intimate details slightly unnerved. Hence, I have concluded that the trick to keeping sanity while reading this book is to imagine an immortal teenage boy with no sense of pop culture.

This entire novel is just a tragic love story of self-discovery. No kidding. Not a lot of happy moments, just sort of depressing moments and old-fashionedness. Caterina Novak is dubbed "The Mad Scientist's Daughter" because her father, Dr. Daniel Novak is an esteemed cybernetiicist. This novel is her life story, growing up in a world where androids are the immigrants to her society's nativists.

At least at the end, I actually got sorrowfully attached to Finn. Like very, very seriously attached like I've never been in a novel character (only fanfiction characters). Like, I literally began to see Finn in a new light. And this novel was LITERALLY Cat's life story: high school, sex, drugs, marriage, divorce, birth, and rekindling of love.

tehani's review

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A quiet character piece at heart, backed by science fiction on a semi-dystopic, grandly domestic scale. I really enjoyed the slow reveal world-building and the unfolding character growth. There are similarities here to Tanith Lee's Silver Metal Lover and Asimov's "Bicentennial Man" – what does it mean to be human, and what humanity can androids take on?

I read this as a Kindle ebook, and was a bit disappointed in some of the formatting errors, but either I'm getting used to such things, or the book was simply good enough for them not to impact on my reading experience as much as they usually do. I loved this book.