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on 3 October 2017
This is a book that will stay in my heart for a long time to come. I loved Cat and Finn and their abnormal yet normal relationship. I thought the emotional side of it all was handled so well, it read so easily. I sat down and didn't get up until it was finished.

These are definitely some of the more three-dimensional characters I've read recently, particularly those on the periphery of the story, such as the parents, even the other scientists... Everyone is well thought out and written about. In fact, the prose and Clarke's voice in general is wonderful.

The near-future world creates the platform for a beautiful romance that might one day be reality. I love, love, love books like this that demolish genre borders and create something new. It harkens to The Time Traveller's Wife in terms of genre cross over, I'd say, though it's set in the near-future so it is a little bit more sci-fi. More than that, it's about relationships, their build up and break down, the grieving period that comes with loss and those we turn to to power through it. It's a beautiful read.
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on 20 April 2017
Sweet (but not sickly, the characters have strong voices and personalities) sci-fi re-telling of The Tempest. Enjoyed the characters and the near future world they lived in. Well imagined, well written, easy to read. Not just for YA, I'm middle aged and thought it was good, too! It's a romance, but it's not just a romance..it's about how selfish people can be, how blind they can be. It's not moralistic or preachy, it just treats the characters as "real" people, i.e. less than perfect. Whether they're human or not
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on 17 July 2013
I had no real preconceived ideas about this book when I sat down to read it. The blurb was intriguing, but I couldn’t quite imagine how the story was going to work. I always like it when this happens, mainly because when the book is good – and this one really is – then it’s a real treat to see the story unfold.

The book tells Cat’s story, it begins when she is a little girl and follows her through into adulthood. It also tells the story of Finn, a one-of-a-kind android who is brought into the family home to act as tutor to Cat. Over the years they grow and learn, and their stories become increasingly difficult to separate.

This book is one of those that is going to be impossible to categorise, it is most definitely a science fiction story, but whilst this thread runs through the book its importance ebbs and wanes – at times I found myself suddenly remembering the sci fi element because the love story of the book had almost entirely taken over my brain. The story is one of love and friendship, but it’s also one of philosophical wonderings and moral questions.

I got incredibly invested in the characters in the book, I cared a huge amount about what was going to happen to Cat and to Finn, even when I started to question what was right and wrong I was rooting for them most of all. At one point when the story seemed to be moving away from what I wanted I could hardly bear to turn the page in case something happened that I didn’t want to see, but at the same time I had to read on to make sure everything was okay.

This is the sort of book that I know I will be returning to in years to come, and I’m sure that as my life experiences shape me so my reaction to this book could change, but however this may happen I know that I will still love it and still love Cat and Finn.
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on 1 March 2013
(I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Angry Robot and Netgalley.)
Cat is 5 years old when she first meets Finn. He's an android, he doesn't eat, he doesn't sleep, and he helps her scientist father with his work. He also tutors Cat instead of her going to school, and he's her best friend in all the world. As she grows up, she comes to rely on him more than anyone, and misses him when she goes away to college.

Cat loves Finn, it's obvious, but as he is `incapable of love' she knows that nothing can ever become of her feelings, and she tries to keep them hidden. One day after the death of her mother however, her feelings escape, and she kisses Finn. Things escalate, and it seems that Finn is more human than she ever considered, and they have sex.

Cat and Finn can't really be together though, it's illegal and immoral, and so she goes back to her normal life. Certain events change things though, and suddenly Finn announces that he is leaving - he's a machine, not a man, and so he has sold himself to the highest bidder.

This book tells the tale of Cat's life, and her love for Finn, even though he is a `robot' rather than a man. Can Cat live without the love of her life though? And if robots are sentient, should they have rights?

This book was so rich and so emotional; it made me cry on more than one occasion. I really felt for Cat, who loved Finn but kept talking herself out of admitting it, all because she believed that he was incapable of love. She tried to hide her feelings even from herself at times which I found really sad.

I have to say that even with the story, when Cat and Finn actually had sex for the first time I found it weird. I know that they did have feelings for each other, but she's asks to have sex with him and he tells her he is capable of it, although obviously he doesn't get any feeling from it the way she does, and it's really weird how one-sided the sex was, like, well.... Having sex with a robot!

I liked Finn strangely enough. He was sweet to Cat, and he did seem to have sentience, and he did seem to have feelings for her, even when he told her that he was incapable of feelings. I also thought that the way he behaved when she was with someone else spoke volumes about how he felt, even if he couldn't put the feelings into words himself.

This story covers a large period of time, from when Cat first meets Finn when she is 5, to the end where she is in her 30's. Parts of the story I liked more than other parts, but the writing throughout was just so captivating, that I wanted to keep reading, even when I wasn't loving that part of the story.

The tagline for this book is `A tale of love, loss and robots', and I think that it fits the story really well. The story basically follows Cat's life from quite a young age, and her background and her love for Finn are a constant background noise within her life, so much so that no matter where she is, she never stops missing him. There is also a lot of loss in this book. I cried on more than one occasion, the story was just so sad in places, but it was so beautifully written that even the sad parts were heartbreakingly good. I actually find it really difficult to tell you how emotionally taxing this book was, and still I loved it, and I'm not going to forget this one in a long time.

Overall; a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of a girl and a robot.
8.5 out of 10.
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on 4 February 2013
Last year I read - and loved - Cassandra Rose Clarke's debut YA novel, The Assassin's Curse. Having been struck by her writing and powerful voice, I was already looking forward to The Mad Scientist's Daughter based on that alone, but the cover reveal and the cover copy sealed the deal. Because look at that cover; it's completely glorious. And Clarke didn't disappoint with her first novel for adults. The Mad Scientist's Daughter is stunning. A gorgeous exploration of love, the ability to feel it and other emotions, and the lies we tell ourselves in order to attain happiness that probes the border between human and AI to see how far they stretch. Perhaps it has a little too much romance in it for those who think all SF should be hard, but for me it was a perfect blend.

While this is as much Finn's story as it is Cat's, the narrative is told strictly from Cat's perspective. We follow her from the time she's five years old and Finn is brought into her home to tutor her until she's about thirty-six. During all this time Finn is an integral part of her life, even once she moves away from home and even when they don't speak for years. Her voice is distinctive and Clarke isn't afraid to let her be unsympathetic. Cat is very human, with very human flaws, and we see her making choices which are unwise and say and do things that are unkind out of self-interest or ignorance. Despite this, I never lost my connection to the character, even when she strives to confirm to what she believes her late mother would have wanted for her and tries to lead a `normal' life and she takes some tremendously stupid decisions. Even if I was sitting there, going `no, no, no, don't do it' at her, Clarke so skilfully built her character that her decisions are plausible and I understood why she made them. She's also quite conflicted and damaged by her inability to deal with her mother's death. Despite this she's strong, stronger than she thinks and you can't help but root for her every step of the way.

Where Cat is all too human, Finn clearly isn't and he won't let us forget it. Every time Cat, and consequently the reader, starts to forget - dare we say even hope - that Finn isn't as human as he seems, he'll do or more often say something that reminds us he's an android. Yet from the first, Finn seems more than this; if there is something as the unreliable narrated character Finn is it. Cat often says she can't read Finn, due to his lack of emotion and facial expression, but from his words and his behaviour much can be distilled. The lies people tell themselves - and others - to be able to ignore an uncomfortable truth are large and Cat is an expert in telling them to herself. In fact at times I felt like reaching into the book and shaking her in hopes of getting her to wake up and see what was in front of her. Through Cat we also witness Finn's growth and his way to achieve his own agency, which was fascinating.

The Mad Scientist's Daughter is far more than a love story. Once Cat realises the truth about her feelings for Finn, she goes to find his origins and his history had just a hint of Frankenstein in it, which is subtle and yet not. If I hadn't just read a YA retelling of the book and a blog post on its conception and themes I wouldn't even have thought to make the connection. Finn's past contained a ton of grief, madness and questions about what constitutes life. This last question is further reflected in the ADL (Automata Defence League) which advocates for the emancipation of sentient robots and androids. The ADL is the embodiment of one of the main questions Clarke poses with this narrative: when does something attain enough humanity to be treated with equal rights? It is an age-old question when it comes to robotics and AI and Clarke handles it in an interesting way. For example, to counterweight Finn and his less-advanced brethren, Richard, Cat's husband works on creating sentient robots that don't possess consciousness to circumvent the laws that protect AI's. But people seem to like these less, exactly because they lack character. I really liked Clarke's treatment, but I would have liked more details on what laws the ADL managed to get passed and what rights the androids get to protect them from abuse. I'd say for me that was the one weak point in an otherwise amazing novel.

Reading The Mad Scientist's Daughter became a tug of war between wanting to devour the story as quickly as I could, because it was so good, and wanting to parse it out, because I didn't want it to end and leave Cat and Finn behind. And at no point did I cry... that was all dust in my eye. With this second book, Clarke has cemented her status as a must-read author. The Mad Scientist's Daughter is really something special and I look forward with anticipation to what Clarke produces next, because she is definitely a talent to watch closely and it's bound to be good. The Mad Scientist's Daughter will be available in the UK on February 7th and in US and the rest of the world on January 29th.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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on 14 February 2015
TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic violence, gaslighting.

Someone ages, and someone doesn't. They first meet when the ageing human, Cat Novak, is about five years old. Meanwhile, android Finn stays as an adult throughout the course of the novel. As a teenager, Cat falls in love with Finn, but at that stage he isn't able to feel feelings as such. Is it okay for a human to use an android to serve their sexual and emotional needs? Finn doesn't object, but had their genders been the opposite, would your answer change?

In various forms of media, it's a common concept for a white man to fall in love with, and try to rescue, a female "other". Cassandra Rose Clarke flips the genders, but the story doesn't progress in the usual loud, revolutionary, overthrow-the-government, kill-all-opponents manner. Instead, it's a quietly elegant unfolding, of two people just trying to cope with the way society works, though it's not to their liking. Each of them tries to do the "right" thing, though their decisions turn out to be the worst for them. Rest assured that it all works out in the end, but this is a happy ending that must be worked for, and the characters are put through their paces to earn it. It's often a sad tale, but one well worth reading.

I bloody love this book. This is sci-fi romance the way it should be - real and relatable; simple on the surface, but deeply exploring everything. Realistic characters and scenarios, keeping the heart of the story down to earth. It's magnificent, and a must-read.
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on 9 February 2013
One evening Cat's father brings Finn home. He is to be her tutor. But Finn is no normal tutor; he is a robot, and not just any robot but a billion dollar prototype; one of a kind. To Cat, he is her friend. Her father tells her Finn's kindness is a program but as she grows, so do her feelings for him. In a world where robots have helped humankind return from the brink of destruction, they struggle to be accepted. Is her father right? And if so what future can they have?

This book is just stunning; a beautiful story about the nature of love and the sentience of artificial intelligence. It's a very intimate tale following Cat from her childhood through to adult via marriage and grief. The politics of the robot situation sits perfectly in the background, enough to fuel the plot but not so much that you need to be interested in robots to enjoy the storytelling. Cassandra's prose is wonderfully descriptive and paints a vivid picture of Cat's world. From the cottage that feels like an enchanting escape from the hostile world to the sterile environment of the glass house.

Cat's a multi-faceted character and one you won't always like. Home-schooled and isolated in childhood she can be a bit self-absorbed and has moments of selfishness. She takes far too much for granted but there is a prevailing sense of loneliness and your heart will break repeatedly for both her and Finn. She is a brilliant example of a flawed character that you can fall in love with. I cried bucket-loads and their story stayed with me long after the last page.

Review copy provided by publisher.
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on 23 January 2016
I cant actually remember what I imagined when I first read the blurb, but I know the book wasn't what I expected. It's like nothing I have ever read before. It's kind of a mix of AI, Bicentennial Man, I Robot with Finn coming across a little like Data from star Trek, told from the perspective of 5 year old Cat as she grows up.

The story is told over 3 parts. The first part reads like diary entries, sometimes with years between entries, and several entries being told in one chapter. At this point in the book I was mostly reading for the sake of reading, I didn't dislike it but it felt that nothing was really happening. Then I put the book down between chapters while i did some normal every day things around the house and I realised I was thinking about the story, thinking about Cat and Finn and how their relationship was developing. Wondering if Finn had any feelings for Cat, who i realised was falling in love with Finn even if she didn't realise it herself.

When Cat gets married its only because she wants to be normal, she knows she cant have Finn and she settles. When Finn refuses to see her now that she's married her heart breaks, and then it breaks some more when Finn decides he is going to work on the moon. I think my heart broke a little then too.

This is a completely unexpected love story. A story of two people who don't actually spend all that much time together but Cat is always thinking of Finn. The story doesn't race along, it seems to slowly unfold and draw you in without you realising.
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on 12 April 2015
I picked this up on a complete whim in Waterstone’s one day, based purely on the title, and I was so glad I did.

Cat is the daughter of two eminent scientists. She lives a pretty carefree existence, studying what she pleases and playing in the garden of her family’s isolated house, until one day her father brings home Finn, whom he introduces as Cat’s new tutor. Over time, she and Finn develop a bond, and eventually their friendship turns into love. The only problem is, Finn isn’t human. He’s the first and only one of a new breed of incredibly advanced robots.

The story spans thirty years, from when Cat is a young girl, through her adolescence and into womanhood. I don’t think a year is ever actually specified - artificial intelligence is common, the earth’s climate has changed and there is space exploration and colonisation - but the feel of the book is very current, in the way people speak and the things they do.

The writing in this book is beautiful and melancholy. I’m not really one to cry over books, but I did feel myself misting up on occasion and Cat and Finn’s story stayed with me for ages after I’d finished the book.

Cat is a flawed protagonist, and all the better for it. She is selfish and makes some really bad choices and she’s annoying as hell in some places, but you still find yourself cheering her on. And Finn... I kept having to remind myself: he’s a robot. But I think that’s the whole point of the book.

I guess really the author is asking us: at what point does something stop being a machine and start being a living entity? Is it with self-awareness? The ability to think and learn independently? The ability to love?

This book is so many things: romantic without being schmaltzy, sci-fi without being overly technical and philosophical without being inaccessible. I’d recommend it to anyone.

This review is also on my blog: www.bookblogbird.weebly.com
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 December 2013
This was kind of a strange one. I wasn't overly keen on the writing style and the way info was imparted. It was very cold, clinical and minimalistic.
It had elements of AI and Bicentennial Man now and again. The emotional attachment from machine to human, the human connecting with the machine on a personal level and the machine wanting to be more than what it is.
The relationship between Cat and Finn didn't sit right with me.
It wasn't because of the human and robot issue though. What I found slightly dodgy was the fact Finn had been around as a friend, confidante and carer since Cat was a small child. That gave their subsequent romantic relationship a tinge of incest. If Finn had been a male human carer/friend living in the house whilst Cat was growing up, who decides to have a romantic relationship with the child he has helped to raise, then it would also be considered more than odd. Had the author had Finn join household as an adult male after Cat turns 18 then it wouldn't have that inkling of wrong. Finn acts like a fully grown male in every way. I also felt the whole enjoying the physical aspect via special tap and slap function a little bizarre.
Other than that the story actually became more interesting as it went on. Cat and her emotions towards the TinMan are a work in progress.
Of course inevitably the issue of whether a robot with human elements is just a new type of human and possibly our future popped up. Can society treat them like tin cans if they are given the ability to can feel emotions like humans do and act upon those emotions? Or will society always treat them like an advanced microwave with the ability to think independently.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.
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