Book Review

Flowers for Alegnon

Summary

Charlie Gordon is okay about how his life turned out, he only wishes that he could be smart. When a group of psychologists are looking for a candidate for an experiment to make you smart, Charlie begs to be their choice. However, will this change bring about good or bad things for Charlie? 

My Thoughts 

I decided to read this book as one of the twelve books I wanted to read before I turn 30. I have heard so many things about this book since high school. However, no one is really detailed about why they liked the book. All they would say is either, “it was SO GOOD,” or “omg, it was SO SAD!” So I didn’t really understand the heartbreak or the soul crushing sadness that I would face when I read this work. I honestly feel like all those people I’ve ever asked about this book. Yes, it was SO GOOD and yes it was SO SAD! 

I have always been fascinated by the human brain and how psychological experiments are conducted so this read was SO interesting to me. The way the author portrayed this beautiful and troubling story was so very well done and I don’t think it could of been done any other way. The story of Charlie’s journey through the psychological experiments is told through Charlie’s journal entries he is asked to write for the experiment. At first the journal entries are filled with typos and a lightheartedness for his life. But of course it is like reading the journal of a young child and a very depressing ignorance for the cruelty of the world. As Charlie’s story continues and the experiment begins to take hold in his brain, he starts to realize the splendor of the art of the world, but also the horror that intelligence brings as well. He starts to notice that people treat him as other and that his past is a haunting place. 

As I was reading through Charlie’s story, I came upon that old saying, “ignorance is bliss.” I couldn’t help but think that Charlie gaining that intelligence almost was a detriment to his situation and he would of almost been better off the way he was in the beginning of the story. As Charlie gained that intelligence that he so desperately seeked, he almost became too absorbed  by the knowledge and wasn’t able to lead a normal life, even more so than before the experiment. This book made me realize so many terrible things and it was VERY difficult to truly absorb it all. I believe this book is one of those reads that I’m going to have to read again and again to truly grasp all the gory details this author is trying to convey. 

Not only does this book question if intelligence is the secret to happiness, it also examines how people view and treat people dealing with mentally related issues. I found Charlie’s struggle with this the most fascinating! I mean he struggles to find sympathy and understanding or the people from his past classroom when he is gaining more intelligence from the experiment. That was SO SHOCKING to me! I thought of all people he would be the most accepting and understanding, but I was wrong! 

This book also highlighted the way of science experiments and how sometimes human subjects can become dehumanized through the process. The idea of humans being tested on has always somewhat made me slightly uncomfortable, but I always rationalize that it is for the greater good and the human subjects are usually paid and aware of all the consequences of their participation. However, Charlie is a rare and depressing case because although he did want the experiment, did he really understand what was going to happen to him? I highly doubt he did. I also loved that the author had such a vivid comparison between both Charlie and Alegnon. Alegnon and him were both in the same situation despite the fact that one subject was an animal and the other was not. 

I could go on and on and ON about this beautiful yet depressing tale, it was just so good! I believe everyone should read it because it is such a beautifully written book and it has such a wonderfully humbling and compassionate affect on the reader. 

My Book Rating

5/5 Book World 

5/5 Plot 

5/5 Characters

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book Details

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes 

Genre: Science Fiction 

Published by May 1, 2005 by Harvest Books 

Copy Read: Paperback 

Pages: 311 

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