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Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Publisher: Angry Robot
Published: January 29, 2013
Pages: 400
Source: Won from Paranormal Indulgence
Rating: 3 Stars

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is the heartbreaking story of the journey from childhood to adulthood, with an intriguing science fictional twist.
There’s never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn.
He 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 to tutor Cat.
When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

In short: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke is an angst-ridden robot love story. Unfortunately, it wasn't the book for me.
Don't be fooled by the mention of robots in the summary for The Mad Scientist's Daughter; the story is more of a tragic romance than science fiction. The Mad Scientist's Daughter tells the story of Cat and her relationship with an android named Finn. The story spans several decades of Cat's life, starting at age 8 and continuing to her mid-thirties, and follows her struggle to come to terms with her feelings for Finn. I was surprised at how different The Mad Scientist's Daughter was from Cassandra Rose Clarke's debut YA novel, The Assassin's Curse, which is a book I LOVED. Where The Assassin's Curse was light and fast-paced, The Mad Scientist's Daughter was almost depressing in tone and quite harsh to read in comparison.

The source of this depressing tone is Cat, the mad scientist's daughter, and the novel's narrator. She is also the main source of my frustration with The Mad Scientist's Daughter. She is a terribly broken person, struggling to find meaning in her life, and I am sympathetic to that - I am, really. But at some point I just wanted her to take control of her life, rather than drifting through it and letting bad things happen to her. She does do this eventually, but unfortunately very late in the story. Prior to that, she agrees to enter into a marriage she knows will not bring her happiness and that leaves her hollow and miserable. And she returns to an abusive relationship time and time again. She is also a terrible user - using Finn as an object for sex, never once bothering to think how that might make him feel despite her supposed care for him. I was never able to form an emotional connection with Cat.

The Mad Scientist's Daughter is above all a romance. An incredibly angst-ridden one, at that. Now, the focus on the romance is an automatic dislike for me as I prefer to read plots where the main source of conflict doesn't revolve around the romance. And throw in the angst into the equation and it was almost too much for me to take. I was bored. The plot DRAGS and though I felt this was a good reflection of the lack of meaning and tediousness of Cat's life, it was still incredibly boring for me to read. I would have liked to explore the world more as I felt there was loads of untapped potential surrounding the ethics and rights of owning a sentient being, and THIS was what I was interested in most.

Ultimately, The Mad Scientist's Daughter clearly just wasn't the book for me and my critiques are all reflective of my personal biases. I do still maintain that Cassandra Rose Clarke is a great writer with a talent for enduring romances. I also really enjoyed the subtle world building and the fact that it was light on the science fiction elements. I believe that there are many people that would enjoy and appreciate The Mad Scientist's Daughter more than I did and I hope it finds its audience. Recommended for romance and robot sex enthusiasts.

Other Reviews:
More Than Just Magic
The Nocturnal Library
Sarah Elizabeth's Bookshelf

Authors Links:


  1. Ohh, bummer! I still haven't read The assassin's curse, but I think I will pick that one up first. I don't mind books with a depressing tone, but together with all the other things you've said.. I'm not sure I will like it. I need to connect with the MC and Cat doesn't sound like someone I can bond with. I'm sorry to hear it was so disappointing!


  2. Hmmm...that's too bad because it sounds like a really good plot. The idea of being in love with a robot does sounds really sad....

  3. I haven't read anything by this author but I remember you raving about her other book. Too bad this one didn't live up to that. It sounds like the MC would drive me nuts too, the drifting and not really caring about herself would have me wanting to slap her for sure. It's good to know that she does eventually click in and start giving a damn but too bad it was too late for you. Great review, love the honesty!

  4. I think I might like this one more than you Aylee just because I'm on of those people who loves when the romance is the focal point of the story:) I worry a little bit about the angst though, I enjoy a good angsty relationship, but I don't like it when it becomes overwhelming and it's such a fine line.

    Also, this made me snort:

    "Recommended for romance and robot sex enthusiasts"

    I can profess to be the former, but I have no idea if I would be the latter. Guess I'll have to read this one and find out ;-)

  5. "Recommended for romance and robot sex enthusiasts" LOL that bit cracked me up! Brilliant. For some reason I just knew this wouldn't be a book for me and your review confirmed it. Angsty romance-driven stories aren't my forté...I definitely prefer plot-driven storylines as well. The MC sounds like she would have really bummed me out & even annoyed me too. I haven't read The Assassin's Curse though but that one is on my reading list. Thanks for the honest review Aylee!

  6. I'm sorry you didn't like this one as much. I really enjoyed it but I think I liked it more for all the questions/issues I thought it was trying to raise (like the nature of love/humanity etc).

    I have to admit I actually spit my water out laughing when I read your last line. I swear I didn't love this book because I'm a robot sex enthusiast!

  7. Totally understand what you mean about sympathizing with a character's brokeness but wanting them to step up and control their life and future.
    Sorry you didn't like as much as you wanted to.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  8. Aew bummer! I hate when I get more romance than expected.

  9. I just started reading this one, and I'm not very far along but I can see what you mean about Cat, but I have to admit I am enjoying it so far. I hope I do like the story as it goes along, but it is quite choppy writing, which is a little unsettling for me.

  10. Well, the cover title's font caught my eye. This reminds me of the robot movie Robin Williams did in the 90's... the Millenium Man? It had to do with human emotions versus robot emotions and how cruel humans can be when we have the upper hand. Also - robot sex? Sounds interesting... reminds me of the scene in Artificial Intelligence with Jude Law where he asks the woman who hires him as a escort if she's ever slept with a robot before. Now I'm going to go watch a Jude Law film, haha.

    Thanks for your review!

  11. Yeah, *sigh* I am NOT a fan of angst, and especially angsty romances and Cat really made me want to strangle her on several occasions. People whose opinions I really respect adored this book, but it was just too much for me.
    Fantastic review.

  12. I love that last line. I don't consider myself a "robot sex enthusiast" but now I have to say I'm intrigued. :P I have yet to read Assassin's Curse, I know that's awful, and if I had to read a book by this author, I would pick that one. This book just does not sound like my cup of tea. Like you, I'd rather not have the plot revolve around the romance. And Cat sounds like a mess, and not the good kind you find in issue books. Great review, Aylee!

  13. I loved her other book The Assasin's Curse. She's a very talented writer. I'm on your side though when it comes to my reading tastes, I like books where the plot is not centered around the romance. I think you gave an honest review. I appreciate your insights and because of that, I will pass on this one, but am waiting with bated breath for Book #2 in her other series.

  14. Recommended for "robot sex enthusiasts?" hahaha. I do feel like this is one book that I'll have to pass. I didn't LOVE The Assassin's Curse, but I quite liked it and do plan on reading the sequel. Like you, however, I prefer books that don't fixate on romance as the plot. I've read many reviews where people expressed similar frustrations with this book. It is too bad, but maybe this will help Clarke realize that her potential lies more along the lines of The Assassin's Curse and keep writing those types of books.

  15. I'm not a fan of angsty romances and the MC in this one sounds like she'd make me miserable. I'll definitely pass on this one, Aylee, as I didn't totally fall in love with The Assassin's Curse either. Thanks for the review!

  16. I think I'll skip this one, since I also dislike mope-y, uselss characters and plots centering on romance.

    Although I love the phrase "robot sex enthusiasts"!

  17. I debated buying this today, but (luckily) picked something else instead! Romance is fine, mopey and angst is not! Weird because it even says on the back 'shelve in scifi/fantasy' or words to that effect. Thanks for the review!

  18. I feel bad saying this, but I'm relieved to read this review. I loved The Assassin's Curse so much that I want to devour everything she ever writes...but the plot for this book just did not appeal to me at all. Still, I was tempted to try to force myself to read it anyway. I had so many worries about this book, and your review confirms every one of them. I think I'll pass on this and just look forward to the sequel to TAC. HUGE thank you!

  19. This sounds like too much a downer for me!
    I think I'll sit this one out too
    Thanks for taking one for the team ;)
    *gives cookie*

  20. It looks like you've been striking out with your books lately. That's to bad. This one sounds interesting, and I like a good angst filled romance everyone once a while. But I am not sure about the robot part. Hmm...

    Thanks for the review.