This review will start, as all reviews will, with a comparison for you to understand how known this book is. The easiest way for me to do this is to compare the number of ratings it received on Goodreads. While Goodreads does lose part of the audience in the elderly and children (those with little access to technology for one reason or another), because it draws from the same people base for each book, the comparison can still be considered accurate. (Trust me, I took AP Statistics) This has nothing to do with the average rating or anything like that, just instead how many people did rate it.
Some of these books I expect you’ll know, and others you won’t. Perhaps you will look into them. The italicized books are the ones that will be constants in my reviews, and will have reviews of their own, so those are worth familiarizing yourself with.
As of 6/26/14 the number of ratings on Goodreads are as follows:
The Hunger Games: 2,644,936 ratings
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: 2,587,311 ratings
The Great Gatspy: 1,660,005 ratings
Divergent: 923,678 ratings
The Old Man and the Sea: 292,854 ratings
Fablehaven: 68,734 ratings
Ship Breaker: 22,129 ratings
The Winter Witch: 3,440 ratings
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter: 1,060 ratings
So in my opinion, this is a little known book. Yet do not let that be what you judge it upon. I have found that some of the most frequently read books are the worst, and the best are the ones you have to dig through the masses to find. Each book should be given an equal chance.
A 3 out of 5, for me, is just slightly above average. Considering the volume of books I read, I have to be sparing with my ratings, or I’d have over a hundred 5’s, and that just wouldn’t do. This book, as a 3, is a good book. If it were the first in a series, I would be continuing it. I would tell people to read it, but I would never use an adjective stronger than “good.”
The Writing: Cassandra Rose Clarke is no novice to writing. When she wrote this I believe that she had only written one full length, independent novel prior, that being The Assassin’s Curse. Having read that novel I can surely say that at its basics, this one is better written. Clarke accells at world building and the classic “show not tell.” For me, a book is not mainly about its writing, but about its content, and the worst thing for an author to do is ruin a perfectly good premiss with poor writing. Here, the writing does its job, it conveys the story. There are some minor grammatical errors that could probably be fixed with a quality editor.
The Characters: The characters, more or less, are human. They establish what humanity is as they develop. This story is driven by the characters, and not by some goal, and the characters do this through change. Often authors may write a character into existence that is far too perfect and good. When this happens there are two options: kill the character, they can’t exist forever and get a happy ending because they are too good; or: have a book that ends to perfectly for anyone to ever imagine a world like this could exist. While both of these can be well done, I don’t necessarily find it satisfying. Clarke instead does a fantastic job of creating the flawed character. A character that is realistic, believable, and relatable. Each and every character in this story is someone that you can understand. Even the most minor or characters feel familiar, and for this alone Clarke has made her book worth reading.
The Plot: With a character driven plot, sometimes it is hard to understand where the story is going. Clarke carefully builds in the back of your mind an idea of where this story should go, but she does so through the movements, actions and thoughts of her characters. This creates a character driven plot with the mentality of a goal/journey driven plot, as there is journey involved. The plot of the book takes place in a futuristic world, and yet this world is believable. It is advanced in some ways, which is expected, and yet it has deteriorated in others, which while odd seeming at first is actually a relief. It reveals the basic idea that the future is not all good and perfect and full of problems that have already been solved.
Overall: The most outstanding factor of this book is its relatability. It is not fiction, it is fantasy, and yet it is a fantasy that one can easily believe, in 50, 100 years, will be fiction. I truly enjoyed this book. I believe the premiss to be slightly misleading:
“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.”
Because as I read it I didn’t see the struggle as the foremost point of the story. Instead what caught my attention was the development of everything.
This is not a fast story. There is no action or adventure. This book made me want to cry for the injustice of the world. It is a story about people. People you can believe in and believe exist. It is about the unfairness of the world, and about what is under the surface.
I would recommend this book to someone looking for a deep read. Emotional and yet not heartbreaking, a futuristic world that gives the sense of fantasy but keeps things down in reality. I don’t love everything about it, but like in a good relationship, the good outweighs the bad just enough for you to overlook it.
*Warning: Large amounts of smoking are portrayed in this novel, mild sexual activity, mild violence.
Personal Rating: PG-13
*In no way to I condone any inappropriate, illegal, weird, awkward, down right strange, or ‘frowned upon’ actions or imaged portrayed in any of the stories I have read and/or reviewed.*