The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Genre: Futuristic/Sci-Fi Romance
Publication Date: January 29th 2013ISBN: 9780857662651
Page Count: 400
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Janice
There’s never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn.
He 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 to tutor Cat.
When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.
A beautiful tale about love and what it means to be human
The synopsis of this book is misleading. It sounds like a book about Finn, but it isn't his name on the title; he is obviously not the mad scientist's daughter. No, that would be Cat, and make no mistake, this is very much her story.
The tale spans a couple of decades, beginning with Cat's childhood and her first introduction to her father's assistant and her new tutor, Finn, and then following Cat through her teenage years, young adulthood, and finally, womanhood. The "when" of this book is a bit ambiguous. If a year was ever specified, I must have missed it. With robots and androids working in homes and businesses, and references to space colonization, it obviously takes place in the future, but at the same time, it feels very current. Like it could be happening somewhere, right now.
So...robots. In the book, they are both accepted and reviled. One group support robot rights, and another wants robots removed from everyday life. Cat's father builds and develops them. And Cat? She's too young to care about grown-up politics. She has Finn, and nothing else matters.
From the moment Cat and Finn meet, she accepts him. He's her tutor, her friend, her constant. As Cat grows up, Finn is always there, unchanging. He's the one person she can truly trust and rely on, someone she can always come back to.
Except Finn is not a person, and never will be. He's a machine. An advanced and incredibly sophisticated machine that is capable of thinking, learning, and working independently, yes, but if you cut him open, all you will find is an intricate collection of wires, parts and programs. Everything about him, someone built or installed. He can't understand complex human emotions, and falling in love is completely out of the realm of possibility.
Or is it?
Finn is unique, the only one of his kind. And he does feel. It's subtle, though, and I would often ask myself, Am I reading into his behavior? Seeing human qualities where there are none? And each time, my answer was a resounding NO. I never once thought of Finn as "just a machine", and I didn't give a damn what he was made of on the inside, or that he could literally be turned off. To me, he was as real and human as I am, and I wanted him to love and be loved. To be happy and lead his own life, without anyone looking down on him or treating him like the robot he is. And I wanted him to have all of that with Cat, because they both needed and deserved that chance.
I wish I could say Cat is perfect - the ideal heroine - but she isn't. She's flawed and at times behaves in a way that makes her come across as unforgivably selfish and shallow. More than once, I wanted to reach into the book, yank her out, and slap her senseless. Force her to wake up and finally see instead of just gliding along and ignoring what was right in front of her. She made some very poor choices in her life, and yet, instead of losing patience and writing her off, I found myself rooting for her. Maybe because of the way she was with Finn, or her devotion to her father. Or maybe because she reminded me that we have all screwed up at some point in our lives, said and done things we regret. But we are more than our mistakes, and that's especially true in Cat's case.
At its core, The Mad Scientist's Daughter is a love story. An unusual one, perhaps, but powerful and thought-provoking, and a book I won't soon forget.
5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.