Monday, January 21, 2013

ARC Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Title: The Mad Scientist's Daughter

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke

Rating: 2 Stars

Release Date: January 29th, 2013

Looking back, I think I can acknowledge that The Mad Scientist's Daughter is more of a tragic love story than anything else. Although it's been marketed as sci-fi, focusing on robots and a dystopian future that seems eerily similar to something our own children may experience, at the core, it is all romance and not much else. Let me clarify - all dramatic and angst-riddenromance. Unfortunately, I didn't even feel much for this main romance since I was too preoccupied coming up with ways to murder the main character, Cat. I feel like an anomaly, simply because everyone seems to have at least liked this story, if not loved it, but I was literally crying tears of happiness as I neared the end. I suppose, though, that at the end of the day, some books aren't for everyone and this one just wasn't for me. 

I will say, however, that Clarke has some of the worst synopsis writers ever. Seriously, the synopsis for The Assassin's Curse gave away the entire plot and the synopsis for this one gives away too little. Ultimately, however, the novel is about, as its title suggests, Cat, the daughter of famed scientist Daniel Novak. When Dr. Novak brings Finn, a robot who looks and seems human in every way, to their home when Cat is only five, her entire life is changed. At first, their relationship is one of tender friendship. Cat is tutored by Finn, but as she grows, so do her feelings for him. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Finn isn't human, he's only a robot, so he can't possibly feel anything for her too...can he?

I found the premises of this novel to be fascinating and was quickly drawn into the story of Cat as her life unfolds, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Yet, as I finished the first part of this novel, for it is split into three parts, I couldn't help but lose my former enthusiasm for the story. For one, the novel justdrags. It covers nearly half of the total lifespan that Cat lives and as such, it is a long book, one with lots of extraneous details and under-developed secondary characters that it is impossible to feel much for because of their fleeting presence, giving way to more than a little skipping.

More important, however, Cat is an unlikable character like no other; unlikable to the point where she's quite literally a badperson, not someone who is good and has their flaws. As Cat grows and continues to deny her feelings for Finn, treating him as a robot while seeing him as a man, she uses him in more ways than one; uses him as an object, never bothering to care for his feelings and exploiting him for her own gain, despite her care for him. Later, in an effort to escape her attachment to him, she uses other men in her life, for instance her rich husband whose love she never returns. It's all just one disaster after another; death followed by a loveless marriage followed by more sorrow.

If all that desolation wasn't enough to turn me away, I never felt as if Cat was truly redeemed by the end - I still hated her with a passion. Now, books, as John Green would say, are not in the business of creating likable characters, which I totally understand, but I do believe that they are in the business of creating bonds with a reader and that was sadly missing. Of all the characters in this tale, the only one I came to feel for was Finn; sweet, kind Finn who seemed to be utterly manipulated by everyone in his life, from Cat's kind father to Cat, who loved him, herself. Furthermore, more than a lack of emotion or feeling when it came to this book, there were so many aspects of Cat's life that we found out about, but that played no larger role overall; I guess that the plot outline was generally very sloppy for this, introducing elements that were completely unnecessary and leaving me detached even from the story itself.

Yet, even more than the characters and my dislike of the romance, this book sorely disappointed me with all its wasted potential. At times, the novel would veer towards political debates on the humanity of these robots, whether or not they should have been granted rights, etc., but none of this was further explored. Furthermore, Cat never undergoes any doubt or lingering qualms before entering into a relationship - or whatever you want to call it - with Finn. Of course, she realizes that it isn't normal or evenright to be in love with a computer, but she doesn't seem to care or worry. In fact, the only character who ever calls out Cat on her relationship with Finn is her mother, who is conveniently killed off in the first third of the novel.

While The Mad Scientist's Daughter was not a book for me, I'm sure it will move many other readers. I'm not one for angsty romances that remind me of the majority of adult romances that I so painstakingly avoid and especially not with hints of politics and sci-fi thrown in thrown in for the sake of it; I'm especially not one to condone heroines who use men in a twisted love triangle fashion, giving the type of love that is seen as practically obsessive for they are a mere shell of themselves without their loved one. I cannot deny that Clarke is a phenomenal writer and her versatility has definitely shown through in her quick - and successful - venture into adult novels. Still, I think I'll just stick with her YA books - God knows I can't wait for The Pirate's Wish to release!

Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 


  1. That's sometimes the problem with blurbs and when I see a long text, I always try to skip most parts. It's no fun when you already know the whole story.

    Cat doesn't sound like someone I will like and most of the times, books with unlikable characters end up in my DNF pile.. Such a shame that this book wasted his good promise. I will read her assassin's curse, but I might wait with this one for a while :)

    Nice review!


  2. I agree that the premise for this is an interesting one. It's why I was initially drawn to this book in the first place (that and because of The Assassin's Curse), but I think I am certain now that I won't enjoy this. I feel the same way about likeable/unlikeable characters. I am completely fine with characters who have personality flaws, but not to the extent when connecting with them becomes an issue. Sorry this didn't work for you, Keertana! Lovely, helpful review as always.

  3. augh, it doesn't sound like Cat and I will get along. I heard pretty good things about the first one and pretty mixed things about this. sorry you didn't enjoy it more!

  4. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one, dearest.

    I just finished and loved it, but I think that's down to personal taste. I can see everything you said, but whilst I don't think Cat was "likeable" I could connect with her and the novel wasn't perfect, but I did find it moving.

    I liked the tragicness of the situation and I fell in love with Finn.

    Still, I'm in agreement with you about the synopsis, they are terrible. They don't nearly summarise the stories good enough. Nevertheless we have The Pirate's Wish to look forward to in June!

    Woooo. Great review! :)

  5. Yes. Although my rating is a bit higher than yours, I pretty much thought everything you did. Cat was downright infuriating, and I didn't feel that she was ever redeemed either. It's more like she just ran out of options. Another thing that bothered me immensely was that she never told her ex husband the you-know-what. I mean, I know that he was a jerk, but by God, she was too, and not telling him seemed like such a horrible thing to do.
    Fantastic review, Keertana. So eloquent... as always.

  6. Hah, also, I'm in the business of taking words apart to see what they're made of, not putting them together. If there's one of us who should write a book, it's definitely you, my friend. (Though I do hope to write a grammar one day when I'm very very old. :D)

  7. "More important, however, Cat is an unlikable character like no other; unlikable to the point where she's quite literally a bad person, not someone who is good and has their flaws."

    Well that's certainly a problem isn't it? I love characters who have some moral ambiguity to them and exist in darker shades of gray, but I need there to be some vulnerabilities and redeeming qualities in there somewhere. I don't think this is a book I'll be rushing out to buy Keertana!

  8. If you hate the main character it's almost impossible to like or enjoy the story, IMO. I won't be picking this up anytime soon. I don't care for tragic romance. Thanks for the informative and wonderful review, Keertana. :)

  9. Great review! I've heard some mixed things about this book but I'm pretty intrigued now. :)

  10. I wasn't planning on reading this one anyway, but the issues you had sounds like ones I would have as well. In fact this sounds like one that one infuriate me. Kudos for sticking with it!

  11. I am so put off by the sound of the MC, I would need more than what she's offering us as the reader to be able to connect with this book.

  12. "Unfortunately, I didn't even feel much for this main romance since I was too preoccupied coming up with ways to murder the main character, Cat"

    Ok that made me giggle. :-) I'm so sorry this one didn't work out for you, but I'm also incredibly grateful to have read your review. I adore sci-fi novels involving robots/cyborgs/AI. This synopsis would have sucked me in, but now I won't waste my time. There's nothing I hate more than being disappointed by poor execution of a fantastic premise. There are so many intelligent, well-written sci-fis that do address the philosophical and political implications of robots/AI co-existing with humans, sans angst-ridden romance. I'll definitely skip this one. Thanks for your thoughtful review, Keertana!

  13. For me, from this review there is a lot of focuses in the novel seemingly fused together. I have to say, I did laugh at your comment on figuring how the many ways to kill the main character. It seem like you can easily get distracted from this novel. I absolutely loved your John Green Quote; "Now, books, as John Green would say, are not in the business of creating likable characters" I have heard of this quote but it makes you think about the characters that are created in novels! I'm sorry it wasn't for you though. Lovely review, Keertana. :)

  14. You're right - the premise does sound interesting. How frustrating that the story doesn't live up to that potential! And really disliking the protagonist is never a fun thing to do. Let's hope the sequel to the Assassin's Curse is better than this seems to be.

  15. Yes yes yes! So much wasted potential. And the Cat hatred! I mean I NEVER condone abuse in relationships, and I didn't here either, but at the same time I felt more pity for Cat's husband than I did for her. Sure, he got physical and that was UNFORGIVABLE, but he really loved her and she treated him like crap. UGH. So glad you were totally with me on this one. Also you're right--her synopsis are terrible.

  16. I actually liked the sound of this one but oh well. If I don't like the character, I will probably not like the book all that much. They're very important in my opinion and if they're not good (most times we're reading the book from their pov) how can we like the rest of the book? I'm sad this one didn't work for you!

  17. This was the best book I have read since The Time Traveler's Wife (that was in 2007 or 2008). I'd say The Mad Scientist's Daughter is kind of a combination of that book and Edward Scissorhands, so if you like either of those stories, you'll definitely love this book.

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