Saturday 8 October 2011

***Review*** Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Goodreads Synopsis:
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... 

My Review:
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This book was written in 1959  it did not feel outdated at all.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.


Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures said...

Hm, it sounds quite interesting! I've never heard of this title before but I'd like to read it now.
Great review :)

Dani Cotton said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Jen! I'm going to read this YET AGAIN at Christmas this year :) I love it - definitely down as one of my all time favourite reads! xx

Julie said...

Sold!! xxx

Chocolate Chunky Munkie said...

Julie!!! Yay you managed a comment!! :D

Julie73 said...

Testing, testing,123...................... x

Christina said...

This is actually sounds interesting. I've heard a lot a bout this book and know they made a film adaptation about it too, but since I haven't read it, I try to avoid spoiler. I'm actually quite curious about what happen next there with Charlie and what's the deal with the mouse on the cover.

Rebecca said...

This was required reading when I was in school. I remember that it was a very emotional ending. It should definitly be required reading for everyone.

Ruth said...

This was one of the first books I read when I returned to my love of reading a couple years ago. I truly enjoyed it even though I knew the story. It was fantastic, but I agree--only a 4.

Tammy said...

When I first read this book in high school it left me with a deep sadness, it made me reach for the tissues also. I tend to get deeply involved in a book if it is good, and the fact that this really affected me really does tell how wonderfully the story was written!! I agree with your review very much!! :0)

IdentitySeeker said...

I've heard of this title a few times but never read a review for it (and didn't really give the synopsis more than a cursory glance) but now I'm intrigued. Being too smart can be just as lonely as not being smart at all. Look forward to reading it!

Sophia Rose said...

I first saw this as a play and bawled my eyes out. I don't know if I could read it.

Thanks for sharing your review!

FireStarBooks said...

I loved this book! My friend and I did this book for an english project and it was amazing! <3

Christina said...

I read this in middle school and hated it. I imagine a lot of the nuance and cleverness was lost on me, and I was probably hugely irritated by the sections where Charly was made of grammatic fail. I really want to reread it, though, through the lens of my more mature eyes.

DMS said...

I read this book in high school and it really hit home with me. It is a book that I have thought about a lot over the years. I remember that we even watched the movie version, which was okay- but of course, the book was better. I haven't read this book in ages- so I think I may pick it up again. I really enjoyed your review.


Book Loving Mommy said...

The grammar and spelling errors at the beginning would drive me crazy but the book sounds amazing! I love books that stick with you. I will have to order this one!

Bex n Books said...

Oh my, this is the first book I ever taught to a year 10 class! It brings back memories. Your review is spot on; it's such a powerful and moving book.

Fanda Classiclit said...

Agree! Flowers for Algernon was written ingeniously by Daniel Keyes, as if we see Charlie's progress day by day. I have read it twice, and both made me cried!

Dovile said...

I've read this one already, but it was a translated edition. I'd really like to read it in English.

Enbrethiliel said...


I love the journal format for the same reasons you do. And I also cry whenever I reread this. There's one line that gets me every time: when I come to it, the tears hit, without fail!

Don't you love books that you still think about a week after you've finished them? I hope to find this "haunting" quality in every promising book I read, but it's very rare.

Febby Aurora♥ said...

Interesting! great review dear:)


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