Sunday, July 01, 2007

44. "Flowers for Algernon" - Daniel Keyes

Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded janitor in a bakery, volunteers for a new surgery/treatment that will increase his IQ. Indeed, it does, and Charlie becomes the first human to undergo the procedure that made him a super-genius.

He isn't the first victim, though. Algernon, a white lab mouse, also went through the procedure, and originally beat Charlie at solving mazes. But soon, Charlie sees his own destiny through the behavior of Algernon.

Told via progress reports written by Charlie, it is a desperate and gripping novel that remains timely in its questions of science and manipulation, as well as religious arguments.

The first review on the inner flap of the book said, "Charlie will break your heart." That didn't happen to me. As he progressed into a super-human, I lost empathy for him, which I think Keyes purposely manipulated. Overall, I was satisfied with the read, but anxious to see the theatrical version and how the actors would pull off two Charlies. Most of the time, when I love a book, I am not looking forward to other adaptations of it, so this knocks Algernon down a bit.

3.0 out of 5.0 Marijuana Milkshakes.

Banned book - oh dear, wet dreams and other acts of puberty, as well as some sexual references.


Anskov said...

Hey, did I ever suggest "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"? If not, and if you haven't read it, I do now. It's an amazing book. At least I thought so. I thought it was gonna be a kind of Pollyanna story, but not at all

Kristin Dodge said...

Hey stranger! "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is one of my favorite books. The first time I read it I was about 11 or so, then had a completely different response to it at around 17. I may have to pick it up just to see how I react now.

Good to "see" you... shoot me an email when you get a chance.

3M said...

I loved this when I read it in high school--many eons ago.

Erin said...

I remember seeing the movie and I truly believe I Read the book, but can't remember anything, argh! Good story though

Jeane said...

You made the right choice to avoid the movie- it was a horridly awkward adaptation. The book stands alone and is one of my old favorites.