Audiobook Review: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

9 04 2013

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Read by Kate Rudd

Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 9 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a melancholy near future tale of love, family and robots, told on a canvas of a fascinating post disaster world. She fills her world with fully realized, flawed characters that filled me with joy as they were pissing me off. Clarke has managed to create a wonderful science fiction tale with a romantic tilt that I totally bought into. which isn’t the easiest of feats.

Grade: A-

It’s no secret I love robots That being said, I have never LOVED a robot, although I have on occasion imagined my roomba giving me longing glances. Yet, despite this lack of any erotic robot experience, something lured me to Cassandra Rose Clarke’s The Mad Scientist Daughter. Sure, part of it was the excellent review by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings, but mostly it was the book tagline "A Tale of Love, Loss and Robots." Honestly, if you know anything about me, you know that if it has robots, I’ll probably be reading it. Yet, that other part, the Love part, is problematic. I don’t have the best history with Romance, either personal or literary. Sure, I have occasionally read tales of sexy dragons or lovelorn Cemetery Restorers, but just never really connect with the romance of the tale and often find the sexy times sort of, well, awkward, particularly when listening around others. I think the problem is that I understand the romance, yet never really feel it. I think this is the essential characteristic needed to enjoy romantic oriented novels, the ability to emotionally embrace the romance. The problem for me is I can simply never relate to the characters. I can never put myself into the role. Maybe, it’s that I find myself unbelievable as a romantic lead, or maybe it’s that romantic leads tend to be people I can’t relate with. In fact, i often become resentful or mocking towards these Alpha male characters. Yet, here is where I think that I may really have issues. Occasionally… rarely but occasionally, I do get emotionally invested in a romance. Last time I shed a tear due to a romantic entanglement was during the movie Forrest Gump, particularly when he tells Jenny, "I may not be a smart man, but I do know what love is." I found myself enthralled with Lydia Netzer’s novel Shine, Shine, Shine, particularly in the non-Traditional romantic elements. It seems that when the male character is emotionally distant, or in someway outside of societal norms to the point where they are considered handicapped in some way, then grab the tissues, it’s time to fake some allergies. I really don’t know what this says about me, though it really may explain why I am still single.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter tells the life story of Cat Novak, the daughter of a famous cyberneticist. One day, when she is six, she is introduced to her new tutor, Finn, a man so pale, she believes him to be a ghost. Yet, he is not a ghost, but a one-of-a-kind android made to be nearly human. As Cat grows, Finn becomes more and more essential to her life, moving from tutor, to friend, to something even more. Yet, is Finn capable to return her love? So, before we get to what you all want to know about, which is the hot steamy robot kissy sexy lovey stuff, I want to examine the other aspects of this novel. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is set in a fascinating near future, post disaster world where robots and Artificial Intelligence are becoming more important to humanity, to the chagrin of many. I both loved and was frustrated by the world Clarke created. It was a beautiful tragic world, perfect for the tale being told. Yet, the tale itself was so intimate, so limited in perspective that you felt there was so much brimming around the surface of the tale that was worth being explored, particularly, as a post apocalyptic fan, the history that lead up to the changed world. Yet, despite my longing to know more, Clarke brilliantly hands out tempting tidbits along the way, allowing us to get small glimpses of a greater piece. She creates a permeating sense of melancholy with her words, with the broken world an almost too perfect reflection of the somewhat broken protagonist. Cat herself was equally frustrating, making decisions that simply boggled my mind. I sometimes wonder why authors will create theses wonderfully complex and compelling female characters, the saddle them with this condescending douchebags, and offering us just enough foreshadowing of the doomed nature of their relationship to keep us wanting to scream at this woman to runaway as fast as she can. Here again, I wonder if it’s just a matter of translation, that my romance deficient brain wants to analyze these relationships logically. So, now, the robot love. Guys… totally bought into it. It seems that yes, I need to add androids to my accepted list of romantic leads I can become engaged with. Now, part of me was happy to see that even robot man can be incredibly inept when it comes to women, so there’s that. Yet, Clarke had me hook, line and robotic immersion device.  I think with many romantic plots there is a sort of feeling of inevitability. That you simply know that the star crossed lovers will eventually both grab on to the correct navigational chart and find there way together, despite this, I was fascinated by this romance through every step. Even the uncomfortable sexy parts were done well, and never felt superfluous to the plot. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a melancholy near future tale of love, family and robots, told on a canvas of a fascinating post disaster world. She fills her world with fully realized, flawed characters that filled me with joy as they were pissing me off. Clarke has managed to create a wonderful science fiction tale with a romantic tilt that I totally bought into. which isn’t the easiest of feats.

Kate Rudd narrates this tale and does so wonderfully.  The first thing that jumps out to me is the flavor of her characters. She reads the prose with a poetic tilt, capturing the mood of the tale with proficient ease. Yet, when she moved to her characters, and the dialogue, there is just something extra there, a touch of something unique and flavorful that came out in every voice she created. As someone who listens to so many audiobooks, you begin to recognize stock voices, traditional go to vocalizations that narrators use for characters. Maybe it’s just my limited experience with Rudd, this being only my second audiobook experience with he, but none of these characters felt rote in anyway. Each off them came off real. Of course, there were also her robot voices. I loved how she changed cadence when delivering an artificial voice, but still managed to inflect something new into each robotic character. Her voice of Cat’s Artificial Intelligent house was especially creepy. Rudd’s excellent performance truly enhanced my experience of this already excellent tale.

Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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5 responses

9 04 2013
Pabkins

Ok what is a loomba (I’m assuming some electronic device in your home hehe) and I like loving and hating characters at the same time. I must read or listen to this one now!

9 04 2013
theguildedearlobe

Oh, it’s a roomba. Which is like a little robotic vacuuming gizmo. He is quite offputting at times. I agree. I never trust a book when the characters are totally either likable or unlikeable because I don’t know any real people like that.

13 04 2013
Laurie C

This sounds great! I stopped reading your reviews for a while, because I couldn’t keep up with all the great recommendations, but oh well, an audiobook addict never can stay away for long.

15 04 2013
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