Flowers For Algernon By Daniel Keyes
Overall Rating : A Man’s Odyssey that pulls so many heart strings
Okay if you have been reading my other smoothie reviews then you know I’m a sucker for science fiction. Or importantly classic science fiction. If you haven’t notice this by now, go back and read my Subterranean review. I couldn’t stop from praising it. So it’s not surprising I decided to read another classic scifi piece. This one is called Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I read it long ago when I was thirteen and decided to read it again.
So what is it about? The tale focuses on Charlie Gordon. He is a man who is retarded and has a unusually low IQ. He is chosen out of many other people with a similar condition to have a operation to become smarter. The scientist had tried this with a lab rat named Algernon. Algernon like Charlie had a low IQ but after the operation he not only became smarter, but became the smartest mouse alive with an unusual high IQ. And the same happens to Charlie. The story is a collection of diary entries by Charlie through this. You see his thinking in his writing. You see how he’s naïve as at the beginning and how he’s arrogant at the peak. But there’s a catch to all of this. After Charlie has the operation and is on the top of the world, Algernon dies. He has a relapse and his brain does a total reversal causing his brain to function less and less. The IQ rapidly drops and then the brain shuts down. And this happens to Charlie. No I am not spoiling things here. In fact, the story is not about that. The story is about Charlie and everything he’s going through. I mean this is very much like the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. We all know the ending but the read it because it is such a engaging odyssey to not turn away.
So the good? Emotion. We see Charlie grow up mentally, so quickly. We see all the emotions and memories rush back to him. We see the naïve boy turn to a sweet man and then into a arrogant drunk. We see that his so called friends were jerks who picked on him as he gets smarter. We see him fall in love, lose it again and never truly find it until his life is spiraling downward. I mean this is amazing. It’s so heavy and so believably sad. I cried at the end of this book. The last entry pulled so many heartstrings that I just wanted to reach into the book and help Charlie so badly. It’s pure drama, but done so well that reveals so much about the human condition. It really is amazing.
So the bad? Not much to say. I can only praise the book. But I do have this to say. It’s sad. It is very very sad. So if you don’t like books that make you cry, this is not for you.
Overall the book is a classic. It is a classic I believe everyone should read at least once. I mean, this book is really worth the read.
4 smoothies out of four.
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