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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime
Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a toilet cleaner at a bakery. After an experiment is done on him by the local University his IQ gradually increases in parallel with the test mouse, Algernon. However Algernon starts to display erratic behaviour which leads the super-intelligent Charlie to suggest both their intelligences will start to drop back to their previous levels...
Published on 16 Jan 2006 by A. Morley

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great but flawed
I thot this sience fikchen novl was entertaining and totching but flaa'd. The first part is very well exekutid. Charlie has all the qualitiz of a lovabl character and following his progris is both fascinating and thought-provoking.

In fact, Daniel Keyes ponders the fact that intelligence, although being one of the greatest human gifts, leads to mental breakdown...
Published 7 months ago by Hakim Briki


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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 16 Jan 2006
By 
A. Morley (Ripley, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a toilet cleaner at a bakery. After an experiment is done on him by the local University his IQ gradually increases in parallel with the test mouse, Algernon. However Algernon starts to display erratic behaviour which leads the super-intelligent Charlie to suggest both their intelligences will start to drop back to their previous levels.
Flowers for Algernon is in my opinion one of the greatest stories ever written. It is superbly told through Charlie’s diary entries which catalogue his days just before the experiment and the following months after it. We see the gradual improvement in his grammar, his spelling and punctuation and learn of his life through his dreams which he is instructed to write down. What is most compelling about the novel is the moral dilemma that is presented to the reader when Charlie becomes intelligent. In the beginning of the book he believes he has friends at the bakery whereas in actual fact they are gently mocking him. By the time he becomes intelligent however he is aloof and has no friends (make-believe or real). He also is incapable of certain emotions at this stage which poses the question at the end of the novel – at which stage was he better off?
This is rightly in the SF Masterwork series, it is my favourite book and has won the Hugo Award (as a short story) and Nebula award (as the full length novel).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 13 Jan 2005
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Flowers for algernon is one of the most amazing books i have ever read. Full Stop.
I picked it up just last week and read the whole thing within two days, thats just how great it is. The main storyline is that you have a main character, Charlie, who is mentally handicapped. He is given an operation to become more intelligent and the book goes on from there. The ascent from his stupidity to his intelligence is superbly written, showing you how he's learning to do more while not missing out the obvious part, that he's realized his friends aren't really his friends.
The story cannot and should not be told in a review like this, but i'd just like to say that i had tears in my eyes when i read the final few pages. Even though i was in the car with my parents at the time.
Only one more thing to say, just buy it
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why don't they write like this anymore?, 2 Feb 2000
By 
Robert J. Kerr "jitsukerr" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Normally wary of books billed as "classics," I bought this on a whim, not realising that I was picking up what would become the most poignant and moving story I have ever read. From the first words, I was gripped by the tale of Charlie Gordon, a clinical moron who is given genius level intelligence through the intervention of science. The story of his rise from intellectual stupor, and his subsequent fall, is written with heartbreaking depth and emotion from his perspective, and we are treated to a discourse on what it means to be human. This is a book that should be read by everyone. A superb novel, well-deserving of the "Masterwork" label.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A minor 20th Century classic, 14 Nov 2002
By 
Penguin Egg (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Charlie Gordon is a retard, but an operation boosts his intelligence so that he becomes a genius. However, it becomes clear that the operation might start regressing and he may end up as retarded as when he started. The story is skilfully told in diary form, with the writing accurately reflecting the mental ability of Gordon. We watch through Gordon’s eyes his mental ascent to unassailable heights; fumbling with his emotional development as it lags behind his intellect; coming to terms with his past….and brooding upon his eventual future. Although the story is sad on so many levels, the book is never depressing and always compelling. This is because Keyes is a writer of skill and subtlety, and deserves to be known to a wider audience than his narrow science fiction base. A minor 20th Century classic.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, 13 April 2007
By 
P. Davie - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Could have been mawkish and over-sentimental. Could have been overly simplistic in its message. Could easily be seen as an "ignorance is bliss" fable with little more to commend it than the fact that it asks us to be sympathetic toward those less fortunate than ourselves. It, to my mind, is none of those things.

Its genius lies in its narrative structure - at each dramatic turn it outwits any second-guessing you may have entered into regarding revelations about Charlie's past as well as any thoughts as to how his intelligence may progress. Charlie's progress is neither predictable nor ridiculously sentimental. Especially since - regardless of his eventual self-awareness - there is an all-pervasive naivety that (I can only imagine) must have been incredibly difficult for Keyes to convey as brilliantly as he does.

What's perhaps more important is not the emotional investment we get in the main character, but the depth and resonance found in the other key players - especially when this is given to us, at all times, by the (first) mentally challenged (then) emotionally awkward Charlie. It is perhaps best just to say that there are no real villains in the novel - just people being people. (I could write more here but it would spoil the plot).

Overall, it is a book that should make you think about your own mental and emotional development. Again, I don't want to plot-spoil but, if you ask me, one of the final comments regarding self-effacement is by far the most poignant and intelligent in the whole book.

Compulsive reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly written, intelligent and highly addictive classic, 4 Jun 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Charlie is a gentle retard, who is waiting for his metamorphosis, an operation which is going to make him smarter, and hopefully more likable. In the meantime, he writes down everything that happens to him, making him the narrator of his own story. "I just want to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends who like me." Charlie's naivite touches us, descriptions of laughing and teasing crowds written with language so perfectly believable, it touches the readers own fears of abnormality. We all want to be liked and to fit in, just like Charlie does. Charlie undergoes the operation, and gets smarter indeed. We see it through the language and situations he comes into. What he finds out is that he is as lonely, but his new understanding of the world around him makes him frustrated and even more removed from people than ever. Read this book, it is a classic piece of science fiction. You will love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Masterpiece, 16 July 2008
By 
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Flowers for Algernon is a largely forgotten masterpiece - despite being the inspiration for an oscar winning movie (Charly, 1968) and the 1992 hit The Lawnmower Man. I was forced to read this in school - as can be imagined, the fact that the learning was compulsory stripped any of the joy out of it. However, years later I bought myself a copy and read it again - and was blown away by the quality of the story-telling, and the emotional resonance of the character.

The premise is fairly simple - Charlie Gordon is a young man with a retarded intellect. He is selected for some revolutionary surgery that is aimed at greatly increasing his intellectual capacity. The experiment had been tried previously on a small white mouse (the eponymous Algernon), and had been nothing but a success. Spurred on by this and by the thought of gaining academic accolades, the team perform the experiment on Charlie.

Those who have recently read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time will be familiar with the theme - Charlie gains a staggering analytical intellect, but his emotional development is still retarded leaving him unable to relate to people on an empathic level. The main bulk of the book is about Charlie coming to terms with his past, his present, and his uncertain future. Unable to understand the emotional motivations behind the people he knew, he finds himself becoming self-centred, arrogant and dismissive of those around him.

His emotional development can never catch up with his intellectual development - the tension between the two drives the most memorable scenes throughout... whenever he is being a 'dirty' boy, his subconscious invents the image of Young Charlie watching him.

As Charlie's intelligence grows, so does his understanding of the research behind his surgery, and he starts to delve more deeply into what was actually done to him. In doing so, he discovers a taster of what his eventual fate is likely to be.

A secondary theme of the book, a complement to the emotional/intellectual disparity, lies in the underlying message that intelligence does not guarantee happiness - in fact, the greater Charlie's intelligence grows, the more distanced he becomes from the people he once thought of as friends. His increasing self-awareness leads him to understand that his friends were always very cruel to him, and that he was always the butt of their jokes.

Before his surgery, he believes that intelligence will make his friends like him more - that he will be able to join in with the discussions they have regarding the issues of the day. What actually happens is that his friends become distrustful of him, and resent his increased capacity for knowledge. They can no longer feel superior by virtue of his presence.

I wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who enjoyed The Curious Incident... in fact, I would go as far as to see that the Curious Incident is just Flowers for Algernon without the character development, the plot-arc and the emotional resonance. This is 'The Curious Incident' done first, and done better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most touching novels I have ever read, 13 Jun 2002
By 
Mr. Christopher Hagon "C.Hagon" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I've been buying many of the books in this series (SF Masterworks), and while I have read most of them at one time or another I hadn't come across this tale. From the first page I was hooked, I couldn't read anything else, do anything else. After I finished it I cried: it is without doubt one of the most genuinely touching stories I have ever read. The exploration of society, the way we perceive each other within society, and ultimately how society shuns that which does not conform, is deft and emotional. A book everyone should read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 4 Dec 2002
By 
R. J. Hole (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is a story about a mentally subnormal man who is used in an experiment to try to increase intelligence. The book is very well written and is very powerful and moving towards the end. It is a story with universal appeal and has could be read by anyone with no interest in the science fiction genre. An interesting aspect is how character changes with intelligence (see if you can see yourself in there).
Essential reading.
One of my all-time favourite novels.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching, intelligent story, 17 May 2006
This review is from: Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This award-winning novel by Daniel Keyes is nearly perfect in its execution, with perhaps the minor quibble of some dated slang that's a slight detraction. But that alone is not enough to prevent the book from receiving a well-deserved five stars. Keyes doesn't hit a false note in his story of the rise and fall of Charlie, a mentally retarded custodian at a bakery who briefly becomes a towering genius thanks to an experimental brain operation, only to loose it all as the effects turn out to be temporary. Worse, Charlie's deterioration is beyond even his advanced abilities to stop or reverse it; he has to bear the slow terror of sliding back down to his previous diminished mental capacity, with the hint that he- like Algernon, the lab mouse of the book title that was first to benefit from the operation- might die too. Although considered by some to be a "just" a sentimental story with a tearjerk ending, Charlie is a fully realized character from start to finish, one whose plight keeps you turning the pages, which is why this novel rates so highly. If you're a new fan of science fiction, or just want to sample what the genre has to offer, Flowers for Algernon should be high on your "must read" list. A newer novel with a similar theme is An Audience for Einstein, another book with an emotionally charged ending.
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Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Flowers For Algernon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Daniel Keyes (Paperback - 13 Jan 2002)
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