There are so many remarkable and wonderful things about this story that I am not sure where to begin. I will do my best though, having not read science fiction in a long time.
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.
We begin the story with a young girl name Catarina, who is intelligent and curious of everything around her, being the daughter of two scientists. She is especially curious about Finn, the young man who her father brought home from work one day. She thinks that Finn might be a ghost, because of the haunted look in his eyes, and the paleness of his skin. That doesn’t keep her from connecting with him though. Despite the age difference, a relationship is formed between them that her father encourages. They decide that Finn would be a better tutor for her, than going to public school. She learns a great deal from Finn. They explore the woods around her home, read books, and of course study science and math; relating to each other like friends, more than teacher and student.
We learn later that Finn is an android and that Kat’s father helped to develop his software. He was meant to be his lab assistant. The story is set in the near future, where Artificial Intelligence can come in many forms. Computers, robots, automation, and androids, some more human looking than others. Her mother isn’t quite as comfortable with Finn, but she accepts some of the benefits of having someone like him tutor Cat. When her parents notice that Cat has formed an emotional attachment to Finn, it is decided that she should attend public school. Being sheltered all of her life Cat is not comfortable with children her own age. She feels compelled to defend Finn and alienates herself from making new friends. It is not until she is in art school that she starts making friends and even has a few boyfriends. The issue is that she compares everyone to Finn. No one really holds her attention like he does.
“There is nothing else like me in the entire world, said Finn. “That’s what you wrote. I’m the only one. I can’t tell you what it means to be the only one of my kind,” he said. “I can’t…There is a lack in myself. But your thesis almost filled it in. It was…a start.”
Despite her efforts to form connections with other men, she eventually turns to Finn for comfort. He would never reject her, so they embark on a more physical relationship. She has never been able to see him as a thing. He has always been a man to her, and she wants him more than anyone else in her life. As strange as that sounds, it was quite beautiful to read. This is the one true connection in her life. The only time she expresses any real emotions, is when she is defending Finn. When she realizes that there is no future with him, because she would age, while he stays the same, she distances herself from him. Disregarding his place in her life, and his own attachment to her.
I found Cat’s actions selfish at times. She marries Richard, another scientist/entrepreneur who wants to develop artificial intelligence on a grander but different scale, taking the human factor out. She does not agree with his tactics, nor does she want to support him, but she cannot walk away. Her only escape is her antique loom, which she uses to express her feelings for Finn in a tapestry that she hopes to one day give him. Struggling in an unhappy marriage, while living in a glass house run by robots, Cat starts to doubt her life choices. She knows she should stop thinking about Finn. After her wedding, Finn abruptly left her father’s home to work on a space station on the moon, cutting off all ties with her and her father.
There are times in the story, when Cat’s lack of emotions towards her parents and husband, made her seem more like a robot, than Finn to me. She struggles with her feelings for her mother who never accepted Finn as a person with rights, like Cat or her father does. Finn never expresses how he feels on the subject though. We assume that he is happy where he is. She eventually cuts herself off from her husband emotionally, because of his work and political choices. She only seems to find comfort with Finn, and eventually realizes that she has fallen in love with him.
Cat wants to know everything about Finn, including his past and his “creator”, as a way of redeeming herself. Her father hid so much information about Finn her whole life. It isn’t until it is almost too late, she is finally able to reconnect with Finn, and find the happiness she seeks with a future that both she and Finn deserve.
This story reminds me that people will find love in unusual circumstances. In the future, as technology develops, relationships with humans and machines just might change and grow. There will be many that will question if robots/androids can be held to the same standards as slaves or humans. Will they have rights to not serve?
Although I did not always agree with Cat’s decisions, I think that eventually she accepts that Finn has always had feelings for her, and that his treatment by her and other people in his life were unfair. His character was definitely the “underdog” in my mind. Her father was the one person that truly understood what Finn was capable of with regards to feelings and emotions, and treated him with the most respect.
Side note: Who is Nicholas Hoult, you ask? He is my NEW British boyfriend actually! He’s tall and beautiful, and seems so sweet in interviews. God, I would so like to “climb him like a tree”. *giggle* You might remember him from About a Boy with Hugh Grant, or if you are an anglophile like I am, BBC’s TV show, Skins. That’s where I fell for him… (I loved Tony *fanning self*) You can see him NOW in the great new movie, Warm Bodies. Another AMAZING book btw. Gina reviewed it here first, or I would have sung its praises.