Flowers For Algernon — Daniel Keyes

This book is incredible, and truly deserves all the accolades it has received.

What i love about this book is that while the writing itself is simple and easy going, allowing the reader to just fall into the story without distraction, the story itself is incredible in its depth and scope.

I would definitely throw this book in with ‘Black Swan Green’ into the teenage education syllabus.

Essentially a man with an IQ of 70 is given an operation and turned into a genius after the incredible success of performing the same procedure on a white mouse named Algernon.   But where an isolated laboratory mouse appears a total success, a human being with a very challenging past that the new found intelligence has to come to terms with while navigating his way into a new life that he is completely unprepared for in every way, is a totally different story altogether.

For the first 15 years of my life i lived with a very damaged heart and was extremely ill and disabled, only to have my heart fixed at 15 and then left to come to terms with all that had happened to me.   Needless to say, it didn’t go very well.   And reading this book about a child who was extremely mentally disabled who suddenly gets fixed brought a lot of those old feelings from my own experiences back.   At one point i almost gave up reading it, it became so upsetting.   But the book is so well written and i just had to keep going to find out what happens to Charlie.   I’m glad i did.

There is so much truth in this book about the way people are and how they treat those they perceive as lesser than, and also those they perceive as more than.   Add to all that, there are also many parallels between Charlie’s story and the changes between drug addiction and sobriety.   Which, again, i know from experience.   There is, quite simply, a great deal for everyone to learn from this book.

And there’s also so much in this book that leaves me looking forward to reading it again in the future — after its percolated through my conciousness for a while — as i really don’t think one reading can ever do it the justice it deserves.

And that ending…

Daniel’s Page

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Nymph: The Singularity – Jill Killington

I originally read this in 2011 when i first got a Kindle Keyboard — yes, i really am that old — and when i put this website together i remembered totally enjoying it, so it went straight onto ‘The Pile’ for a second reading so i could write a nice review.

So, imagine a future where a corporation could gather all your photos, videos, emails, messages, credit card history, travel history, friendships, family history, medical history, etc., etc., and put it all into a computer with AI technology and load that into a body that looks just like you.

So while the AI would know your whole life history, would know what all your friends and family looked liked and how each relationship was weighted in your life, it would also look and behave almost exactly like you.   Now factor in that you’re dead, and your lonely husband is wealthy enough to afford one of these machines to replace you, his dead wife.

This is the story of one such AI simulacrum, known as a Nymph, and her predecessor’s widower.   And it’s good.

Is she nothing but a stupidly expensive sex toy to assuage a billionaires cravings for his dead wife, or is she something more, can she be something more, or, more nefariously, was she designed to be something more?

If you’re someone who has read and enjoyed Isaac Azimov’s robot books — i’m fairly sure you’ll enjoy this just as much.

Well written, thoughtful, well considered, and almost plausible in the not too distant future.   My only complaint is that Jill hasn’t wrote more.

Reading this book does make you think about what current technology could be moving toward with big corporations like facebook, google, and many others.   All gathering what is essentially infinite amounts of information on their users while also at the same time investing heavily into AI technologies.   As the book states…

“Our programmers are scouring every available database for details about Suzanne — remnants of e-mail correspondence, school and medical records, news reports, passports and visas, credit transactions, web profiles, data mines — any infotrash they can dig up.”

Now consider just how much information is stored on servers all over the world concerning you and your life.   And now consider what an advanced AI could do with that information when it’s programmed with your identity in a world that’s governed and controlled by computers and computer transactions.   An AI does not need a body in a world controlled and run by technology to take over your life, it just needs the information that you have given away freely.   How long before you are no longer relevant, how long before you are no longer needed?

There’s lots of food for thought in this book.   So get eating and thinking.

Jill Killington’s Page

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The Last Town — Blake Crouch

‘Pines’ and ‘Wayward’ were brilliant, and so i dove straight into this finale to the trilogy without pausing for air.

It’s been a while since i’ve been treated to such unputdownable books, and to have 3 of them in a trilogy is wonderful.

As with the other two books, great writing, great characters and great all-around story telling.

And what a great ending.   Although, for me, i feel it would have been a tiny bit slightly better without the Epilogue — it wouldn’t be a good review without some negative criticism, now would it?

I am most certainly going to be reading more from Blake in the future.

I’m now a fanboy.

Blake’s Page

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Wayward — Blake Crouch

‘Pines’ was a really good read, and ‘Wayward’ did not disappoint in any way either.

I found both books totally unputdownable, any spare moment my head would be glued to my Kindle reading.

The story keeps on having more layers and twists added to it as more information from the time before suspension is revealed — all to be played out in Wayward Pines.   And the characters just get better the more we learn about them as Blake artfully drip feeds the occasional back story snippet from their previous lives.

Full on story telling from a full on story teller.

And now it’s straight into ‘The Last Town’ for the finale.

Blake’s Page

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Pines — Blake Crouch

I started to watch the TV series a couple of years ago, just because Juliette Lewis was in it.   And then they had the utter gall to kill her off in the third episode.   WTF!!!   So i binned watching the TV version and decided to read the books instead.

So how was the book?   Awesome!

I was very surprised to see this listed as ‘horror’ in Amazon.   I would definitely put this in dystopian sci-fi, i didn’t notice any horror, just the normal dystopian sci-fi kind of stuff.

I’ve previously read Blake’s book, ‘Dark Matter’, which was exceptionally well written and Pines is just as good.   Blake does a fantastic job of putting his protagonists into some really mind bending, disturbing situations and putting the reader well and truly into the protagonist’s mind.

All in all, a great start to this trilogy and i’m diving straight into book 2, ‘Wayward’, very optimistic for more of Blake’s style of writing — i’m becoming a big fan.

Blake’s Page

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The Vernal Memory — J. N. Chaney

I was hoping for a bit more from this last book in this very enjoyable series.   It was still very enjoyable, fast flowing, full of action and everything the first three books were, that’s not the problem.   The problem is that throughout the previous books it’s felt like we’ve been thrown a trail of breadcrumbs concerning lots of things, and i started reading this book thinking that that trail would have lead to somewhere.   Sadly, someone seems to have run out of breadcrumbs.

Previously we were told that the Variant came from a hole that was drilled into the ground, which sounded like someone was covering something up.   Like a hole in the ground would have enough gas to destroy a whole planet plus one more when it leaked through a worm hole.   It didn’t seem plausible for all this gas that has flooded two whole atmospheres to come from a hole drilled into the ground.   But that’s all that’s said about it in the whole series — nothing more.   No further explanation is given.

I was also hoping to have explained to me why the people of Everlasting can’t breathe Variant but the rest of the people on the planet can.

Then there’s Garden.   Who seem to have been around quite some time before the humans arrived, yet their sole purpose seems to have been to stop Gel from his master plan to invade Earth with genetically modified people from Everlasting — genetically modified with Earth’s help.   So no real explanation as to what has been going on in Everlasting before the humans arrived to have caused the insurrection was given.

And there’s other little picky things that just made this feel like a ‘quickly wrap the series up and move on and not get too deep about anything’ kind of book.

But, as i said at the beginning, it’s still an enjoyable read, but i’m just left with the feeling that it could have been so much more.

All in all, a good series, good writing, great characters, fast flowing pace throughout, just slightly lacking at the end.

J. N. Chaney’s Page

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