Flowers for Algernon

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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - 3 out of 5

I'm trying to work my way through the SF Masterworks series and this is number 25.

The book is written in the form of Progress Reports (basically diary entries) & follows the progress of a mentally retarded man (Charlie) with a low IQ who undergoes an experimental operation to boost his intelligence.

Aside from the “experimental operation” angle, there is very little SF in this novel, it could easily pass for a main stream book. Not that that should detract from the story itself of course, which is both strong & thought provoking (especially for a book around 40 years old now). Controversial to the point of being a “challenged” book in the US, where people attempt to remove/restrict access to it.

The writing switches from 1st to 3rd person at times to reflect Charlies duplicity, as he struggles to come to terms with his new (intelligent) self in relation to his old (retarded) self. The Progress Reports keep the narrative moving nicely & once Charlie starts to become more intelligent the “diary entries” become longer & more detailed.

Despite Charlie stating that he changed the way he wrote the Reports from hand written, to typed, to dictated; I found it hard to believe the level of accuracy & detail in some of the longer sections, where the days activities were recounted in detail, especially where there was lots of dialogue back & forth's between 2 or 3 people.

The ending, though quite inevitable, was still pretty sad non the less.