Review: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke


January 21, 2013 by Heidi

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke book coverTitle: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone.
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Published: January 29th, 2013 by Angry Robot
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley

In Cassandra Rose Clarke’s sophomore novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, she has worked to show us that her creative mind fires in all variety of ways, creating a world and story one wouldn’t necessarily expect from the creator of the young adult fantasy adventure, The Assassin’s Curse.  While I applaud Clarke for turning her hand to something new, I have to acknowledge that the audience for these two works will be extremely different, and even I as an eclectic reader do not fall into both categories.  I wanted more from The Mad Scientist’s Daughter.  I wanted Clarke’s insight and take on moral dilemmas we as a society are bound to run into in the not-so-distant future, and I wanted an emotional story that would grip my heart and color my life.  Instead, I was left feeling as bleak and devoid as this work’s beautiful but grey cover.

Due to my enjoyment of The Assassin’s Curse, I was determined to read The Mad Scientist’s Daughter despite it meeting at a glance two of my personal dealbreakers:

  1.  A character named Finn.
  2. A The ________’s Daughter title.

If any of you read this article on The Millions last year, you’ll know that I can’t be the only one getting a little sick of this naming trend, which has increased substantially over the last two decades:

Books Titled The ___’s Daughter, 1990-2011
Data and Image via The Millions.

And if you think it’s a trend that’s dying down, I feel the need to point out that this month marks the release of not only The Mad Scientists’s Daughter, but also The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepard.  That’s not confusing to readers at all. Now, I’m sure no one’s bothered to compile such data on characters named Finn because that really might just be me, but I’m willing to bet the graph would look similar.  At least the green eye trend seems to be falling off.

Perhaps I should have followed my instincts and known that The Mad Scientist’s Daughter would not be the right fit for me.  Cassandra Rose Clarke tells the story of Cat, the titular mad scientist’s daughter, following her from early childhood well into adulthood, along with her relationship with the android who works with her father, Finn.  I craved more from Cat’s experiences–what it was like to be her father’s daughter, how she truly felt about A.I. in general, how she interacted with the world at large.  Instead, I felt we were following the story of a selfish, petulant human being who endlessly self-sabotaged her life and grew little as a person.

I don’t always need to love my main characters, but when I don’t, I need there to be a something that keeps bringing me back to the story.  For The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, it was the hope that Clarke would delve into the moral issues she had presented through her tale.  I wanted to know more about how the world had come to toss aside art and language for such a strong focus on math and science.  I wanted to flush out her relationship wi