Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan ~ Book Review

The Curiosity tells the story of Dr. Kate Philo, a brilliant scientist who has been hired to the team of a ground breaking project run by Erastus Carthage, a well known scientist in the study of cell reanimation and cryogenics.  The team has been successful in bringing small creatures such as shrimp and krill that have been flash frozen back to life for short periods of time and is now in the arctic looking for something larger frozen into "hard ice" within an iceberg.  When they come across a larger form which they think might be a seal, they are shocked to discover that it is actually a man, frozen deep inside the iceberg.  Never having attempted reanimation on any kind of larger specimen, Carthage nevertheless has the body brought back to the lab in Boston where attempts are made to bring him back to life, some of which Dr. Kate is not comfortable with, and the project is named the Lazarus Project.  As the man begins to live longer than anyone would have estimated and starts to regain some memories, Carthage continues to keep him as a specimen in order to push for more funding but Dr. Kate starts to "see" the man not as a specimen of science but as a living human being that has been literally ripped from his fate and woken up a hundred years later into a very different world.  Now she must decide whether to side with scientific discovery or with her conscience and her heart.

When I finished this story, I found it hard to pick up another story for awhile as I contemplated everything this story explored.  It was science fiction, mixed with a touch of romance but one that definitely left the reader thinking when it was all done. This story posed so many questions about science and discovery and ethics and humanity and life. The story is told in 4 viewpoints:  Dr. Kate Philo, Erastus Carthage, Daniel Dixon: a journalist that Carthage has given exclusive coverage to, and Jeremiah Rice:  the frozen man brought back to life.  The first 98 pages were sort of ones I slogged through as the ground work for the story's science of reanimation  was laid out as the team was searching in the Arctic.  Once the frozen man was found the story really picked up as all the ethical questions of cell reanimation and cryogenics started to enfold.   The part ego plays amongst the scientific community and academia was also explored as Carthage would stop at nothing to have the accolades.  Never viewing the man as a human but as a specimen, all his decisions and actions reflected his belief..  The significant role of media and it's part in reporting what they want you to know or what the powers that are above them want you to know as opposed to whole truth was also delved into as was how sometimes protest groups might actually be used to fuel controversy and keep something before the public eye, something I had never thought of before.

I especially liked the exploration of what a man who is frozen and presumably dead and brought back 100 years later might feel and think and experience.  Jeremiah's confusion in the situation and fear are felt in the fact that he only will talk with Dr. Kate, the one person he senses can be trusted.  His reactions to the culture we live in today made for some interesting moments and thoughts.  As he starts to regain his memories and what led up to him being frozen in the Arctic, my heart really went out to his character as he struggled with his own decisions and regrets from his former life.  Dr. Kate's concern and compassion for him as a person, not just as a discovery and project, was a refreshing juxtaposition against the hard character of Erastus Carthage.

Even though I did really like the story, there were a few things from the book that were of concern to me and may be to others.  It is a secular story written from a secular scientific point of view and that was reflected in various ways.  The aspect of Jeremiah remembering anything after "dying" was approached from that viewpoint.  There is some swearing and a few touches of vulgarity that I had to skip and in my opinion were unnecessary even though the author explains at the end where it came from.  The journalist in the story wasn't my favorite character as he couldn't control where his eyes and thoughts wandered.  But removing those things this was an incredibly thought provoking story that touched a whole array of emotions and  I couldn't put it down.  The film rights have been bought so it should be interesting to see if it actually becomes a movie.

I gave it a 9/10 losing a point basically for language and the vulgar moments.


Shoshi Hornum said...

Huh, this sounds like a really interesting book! This week I posted two reviews. Check them out:

Awa said...

I am terrible at reading fiction, unless they're crime novels - but you actually got me thinking about this one! Sounds good.