I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Angry Robot in 2013
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Reading Challenges: The 2014 Science Fiction Experience
Buy the Book • Goodreads
When I requested The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, it was actually by mistake. I had confused it with a YA novel about Frankenstein’s daughter (proof that the …’s Daughter naming trend has gone too far), and thought I’d read it on a whim. This turned out to be the best mistake of 2013. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter made me alternately smile and cry like a baby. On the metro. It’s absolutely frickin’ amazing, and everyone should read it, right now.
The main character, Cat, is the daughter of a famous scientist who works on artificial intelligence. One day he brings home Finn, a robot who isn’t quite like other robots. Finn becomes Cat’s tutor and friend, and each teaches the other valuable life lessons.
As Cat grows up, she begins to fall in love with Finn. She isn’t quite sure what to do with her feelings, and she’s not sure whether or not he’s sentient. She rebels against her emotions, dating and sleeping with other people, and in the process, she hurts Finn’s feelings very badly. And the thing that makes it so bad is that you can understand why she made the decisions she did. You understand why she hurt Finn, and you feel bad for both of them. You get why she allowed herself to get trapped in a loveless marriage, and you feel bad for her feelings of stagnation and frustration as she begins to realize that she’s made a terrible mistake. you feel bad for her husband, who genuinely loved her, but who becomes abusive as Cat becomes more and more of a bitch, blaming him for her unhappiness. And as much as you feel awful for each of the characters, you understand them, and you can see how easy it would be for your life to go the same way if found in a similar situation. In writing a story about unrequited love with a robot, Cassandra Rose Clarke shows us a stark picture of our humanity and the way that feelings can make people act irrationally and against their best interests. In short, Cat embodies the very essence of humanity, our ability second guess ourselves and to make mistakes.
It’s absolutely beautiful.