Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:
I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.
I dint know mice were so smart.
Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is? fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realizes that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate...
This book was recommended to me by a friend. She had read this a long time ago and it had stuck in her mind.
This book was written in 1959 it did not feel outdated at all.
Very cleverly written, the story was told in journal form and you could see how the main character Charlie Gordon progressed. It was written as if Charlie was writing the journal, as Charlie had a low IQ there were loads of errors in spelling and there was next to no grammar. It was hard to read at first but as the IQ of Charlie improved so did the writing. This is what I found most ingenious about the way it was written.
I really empathised with the the highs and lows of the character, it was portrayed well in the writing. You could feel his emotions every step of the way, it did make me feel like I was there for the journey. I found myself having so many different feelings towards the main character, at the beginning and end I liked him and felt sorry for him, but halfway through I had a change of heart and I didn’t like him one little bit.
At one point in the story I was certainly reaching for the tissues and felt quite weepy. This is certainly praise in itself for the story having effect on the reader.
From about halfway through the book I knew what the ending was going to be. It had hinted at what was predicted, but I still hoped it was not going to end that way. I think this book will stay with me for a long time. I’m still thinking about this book a week on and when I’d finished it I did struggle to choose my next book.
This book certainly made me think and it also brought up questions of science and humanity. This would be a good book for a book group as there are plenty of discussions.
Cover: 3/5 – I thought it was fitting to have Algernon the mouse on the cover as this who the book is named after. Plus it seems to imply there is a sci-fi aspect to this book.
Story 4.5/5 – This missed out on being 5/5 because I could put this book down, so wasn’t a page turner in my eyes. I do think it was well written.