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Title: The Mad Scientist's Daughter
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Synopsis: "Cat, this is Finn. He's going to be your tutor."
Finn looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is now to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion...and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world, and in Cat's heart.
Review: I finished this book several days ago (in one sitting), but I still don't think I've fully processed it. This book overwhelmed me and took me completely by surprised. Sure, it's "a tale of love, loss, and robots." But oh my goodness is it so much more than that. I don't even think the synopsis does it justice; it barely scratches the surface.
The synopsis makes it sound like this book focuses mostly on Finn and his conflict with the world. I figured we would see a lot of Finn, maybe even have the book from his perspective, with Cat playing a more minor role. But, as I should have figured from the title, this book definitely focuses on Cat, The Mad Scientist's Daughter. This is very much her story, and we travel with her as she grows and learns and experiences life. We're with her through her tragedies and triumphs, her ups and her downs, her loves and her losses.
For most of the story, I didn't like Cat very much. She's cold and selfish and doesn't consider the consequences of her actions. To watch her change from this fun, loving, little girl into the "ice queen" is remarkable and heartbreaking, and Clarke made it easy to sympathize with her while hating her all at the same time. I think Cat's characters grows and changes the most throughout the course of the story, and the jumps in time really helped to show that.
I didn't find the jumps disorienting at all, as they usually occur at the beginning of new chapters and are clearly marked. I also think they really helped move the plot along, as we get to see Cat from when she's six until she's into her thirties. Her whole life in condensed into less than 400 pages, and the pacing is just right. Even though there isn't much action or adventure or mystery, I couldn't put this book down. I wanted to know how Cat's story ends, and if she's able to reconcile with Finn and accept him into her life and her heart.
I wish we had seen more of Finn, but the glimpses we have of him are just enough to develop his character as well. He remains mysterious, but we always know his feelings (even if they aren't explicitly stated, and even when he insists he doesn't feel). I really don't know how Cassandra managed to write such dynamic, round characters that makes the reader have intense feelings towards them. I love her writing and her world-building and just everything about her books.
I can't decide if I would recommend this book to anyone, because it will break your heart in so many pieces so many times. But at the same time, I really think that everyone should read it. It will make you think, even through the sadness and the tears and the anger and all the other emotions this book will make you feel, it still has an important lesson or two buried in there. I think fans of sci-fi romances will definitely enjoy this book, as well any fans of Cassandra's YA series (even though this book is totally different). I'm looking forward to reading more of Cassandra's works in the future! 4/5