Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes


Personal Rating: 9.5 out of 10.0
Technical Rating: 9.8 out of 10.0

From the Back Cover of Flowers for Algernon,
“Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence— a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.
As the treatment takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctor’s that engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance, until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?”

Personal Review
This is one of the most wonderful books I’ve read of its genre. I usually read thriller/horror/ mystery/fantasy books, but general fiction is a genre rarely seen on my shelves.
It also reminds me of another book I have read before, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon. While Haddon’s book is about an autistic teenager (who happens to be very intelligent, especially concerning mathematics) and Keyes’ book is about a 32-year-old retarded man, both narratives have the same feel.
Things happen that reader knows about, while the character remains doubtful and confused. This book shows the basic horror in everyday things, and of forgetting things you don’t want to forget.
Another thing I loved about it was the pattern of the book. It is written in first person, through a series of progress reports that narrate the story. As it starts out, the spelling is poor and the sentences short, and the vocabulary is even worse than that of a child. After the operation, Charlie cannot see the changes in himself, but the reader can.
You can see him using punctuation properly, make longer sentences, and word things in quotation marks. His vocabulary expands, and the progress reports can be almost five book pages long while the previous would only be a single paragraph. This really gave the reader a feeling of change along with Charlie.
And now, before I give anything away by accident (being the silly person I am) let’s move on to the technical review.

Technical Review

Narrative pace: The pace of the story took its time, pushing you through events and happenings that were relevant to the story, also pausing to insert what Charlie was thinking, or worrying about. In hindsight, it was a very slow pace, but when you read it, it doesn’t feel that way at all.

Writing Style: Very masterfully written. As I have mentioned in my personal review, the same remains of the technical review. One would think that misspelling words is easy, but to make it seem like a person who can’t spell takes some thinking. The gradual progression towards the proper spelling and vocabulary is there, quietly showing the change without an abrupt difference.

Twist: Well, since this is more of a life story, there wasn’t any twists.

Beginning: Defines the motivations of the main character immediately, while also showing the views the main character has towards the other characters, such as Dr.Nemur and Ms.Kinnian.

Ending: (I almost cried, really.) It was a sound ending, if not a little long. I can’t say it tied up all loose ends, but brought resolve to the ending of that time in the main character’s life. A very good ending indeed.

And thus I conclude my book review. And in case you’re wondering how I can write these reviews so fast, well it’s cause I can read that fast. I read Flowers for Algernon in about 5-6 hours yesterday afternoon. Anyways….

Till the Next Review,
PenMaster

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