Brought to you by OBS reviewer Vicki
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a bittersweet, sci-fi/love story about a woman named Caterina Novak and the love of her life, Finn. The novel follows Cat as a curious, bright-eyed child and moves throughout her life into her mid thirties. As a child she is slightly neglected by her workaholic father and her disinterested mother, but things begin to change for Cat when Finn comes to live with the family to home-school tutor her.
Finn is an android; unique to his kind as he looks a lot more humanlike than other androids and robots. He is unchanging, incredibly smart, handsome-yet-mechanical, he does not age and he does not understand abstract emotions like love.
And so begins one of the most heart-clenching and gut-wrenching love stories I have ever read.
I am terrified of angst. I usually steer clear of anything remotely angsty; or I at least have some idea about where the story is heading. I am so happy that I didn’t know Cassandra Rose Clarke was going to chew me up and spit me back out again, before reading The Mad Scientist’s Daughter because there is a distinct possibility that I might not have had the courage to read this book.
I became so invested in these characters, like, obsessive-invested. I first read this book in one sitting because I was desperate to find out what happened. Also, it kind of felt like my heart was bleeding out and the only way to stop it was to carry on reading. When I went to read it a second time I was definitely a little bit too cocky because, unexpectedly, I felt exactly the same way.
This book is also amazingly well-written. There were so many lines that I had to stop to read a second and third time just to soak up the utter beauty of the scene. Clarke also undertakes the difficult task of realistically aging her female protagonist, which is made even more difficult by the fact that her male protagonist does not age physically but has to age mentally. I applaud you Clarke because you pull of this feat seamlessly.
Cat is the perfect example of the pros and cons of home-schooling. She’s a free-thinking and free-spirited, intelligent individual, but she’s a little selfish; a little spoiled; a little mollycoddled. She indulges in life with a vibrant passion and even in her infancy she understands a lot about the world and what it takes to live in the world. She takes what she wants, namely Finn, but doesn’t quite grasp the intricacies of the inevitable fallout. She is a walking oxymoron and I love everything about her.
Finn is removed from everything around him. He is neither human nor android and his attempts to accept this fact involve: facing truth and then hurtling himself light-years in the other direction. His main story arc is his blatant self-disconnection and yet there are times when he seems to be more self-aware than Cat. He is the antithesis to Cat’s act-now-think-later attitude; he considers every single last detail of every situation. He understands desire, want, and need but he is not programmed to love.
I bet no-one reading this review has ever read an unrequited love story where the love is only unrequited because science has not made it possible, yet. Heart meet knife! Gah!
As far as plot goes, there is nothing spectacularly out-of-the-ordinary here; Clarke’s exploration of human nature versus science versus faith versus the disingenuous youth are the reasons this book needs to be read an loved by everyone.
This was an instant favorite with fantastic re-readability. Cassandra Rose Clarke is 100% on my radar now. I cannot wait to check out her YA series The Assassin’s Curse.
Heartfail rating: 10 tissues, 10 tubs of ice cream and a 10 hour long phone call with your BFF. Maybe watch an action movie or ten to toughen you up again!