Review: The Curiosity

The Curiosity

The Curiosity
By Stephen Kiernan
(William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062221063, July 2013, 448pp.)

The Short of It:

Aptly titled, yet not compelling enough to hold my interest all the way through.

The Rest of It:

This one started off strong. Strong enough for me to gush about it on Facebook but after a very strong beginning, it quickly lost its lost steam.

Dr. Kate Philo and her team of scientists head to the Arctic in search of hard ice. Their research involves the reanimation of single-cell organisms housed within the ice and although they have been successful reanimating small organisms, such as shrimp, her team’s goal is to find something larger. Perhaps a seal, but what they find is much larger. Inside the ice, they find a man from 1906. Philo’s team, along with their funding partner Erastus Carthage begin the delicate process of bringing the man back to life in what is quickly called the Lazarus Project.

The idea has been done before.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein comes to mind, and unfortunately so does the horrible 90′s movie, Encino Man. The Curiosity appears to be a mix of the two in feel. The first half asks some tough questions and forces you consider the moral and ethical dilemmas of reanimation in general. The second half, turns sappy when Dr. Philo becomes emotionally attached to her subject. Plus, Jeremiah Rice, the subject of their research is never fully fleshed out as a character. It was hard to feel anything for him although I do admit to feeling sadness over him not being able to return to his family.

The story is told in alternating chapters and for the most part, this worked for me. The chapters that I found to be the most authentic, were that of Daniel Dixon, the reporter hired to cover the event. His sarcasm and skepticism were way over the top. Given the media’s role in something like this, his take seemed to be the most plausible and I found him to be quite funny even though his chauvinistic remarks rubbed me the wrong way more than once.

Although the story raises a lot of question and would probably make for a good book discussion, the execution left something to be desired. The romantic story line seemed thrown in, without consideration to the story itself. And although I appreciated that the story wasn’t ALL science, a little more, given the nature of the story would have made sense. The lack of detail in that area leads me to believe that very little research, if any, took place.

From its strong beginning, I had hoped to like this one more but it just didn’t work for me. I lost interest half way through when I realized where the story was going and that’s never a good a sign.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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19 Responses

  1. Well that is too bad, because the idea of bring a frozen person back to life is pretty cool and a little spooky. Unfortunately so many books start off with a great idea and it doesn’t go anywhere. (And I think I actually saw Encino Man at the theater! Ha! I think friends gave us free premier tickets!)

  2. The comparison to Encino Man doesn’t make this sound too appealing.

    • Another blogger called it “Clown like” and I think she hit the nail on the head.

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  3. Wow. Encino Man. I vaguely remember that movie… That’s unfortunate.

  4. Ugh, this is a tale in how a potentially good book was ruined by romance! :) LOL

    • Dr. Philo is all business so it didn’t seem plausible that she’d get “involved” with this guy.

      I could see getting attached, but it just didn’t seem realistic.

      ________________________________

  5. Well rats! The very same thing happened to me recently. I was seriously enjoying a book..until I wasn’t. Always such a bummer.

  6. Too bad, nothing like a good idea done in by not so great writing. Such a disappointment. And while I’ll have to agree Encino Man was an ugh of a movie Brenden Fraser was awfully adorable.

  7. Oh, bummer — such a neat premise!!

  8. This one and me would not work well:) I just know it. I thought you were going to like it.

    • I wanted to like it. From the first half, I’d read something else by him. Not sure what happened in the second half.

  9. I never heard of Encino Man, and I thought we’d seen all of Brendan Fraser’s movies! Will have to check it out! I liked the sound of The Curiosity from other mentions here and there, but I didn’t really know what it was about.

    • When The Curiosity opened with the expedition itself, I was quite taken with it. I love science and an Arctic expedition made me want to read The Terror by Simmons all over again. Have you read that one? Wow. What a book.

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      • No, but I remember reading your review of it, which made me want to add it to my list even though it’s not a topic that would normally attract me!

  10. I’ve read one other review of this book and have been intrigued by it since then. I’m not sure yet that it’s for me but it does have a theme that I could enjoy.

    • Save your time and skip this one. It could have been a lot better. I’m not sure what happened with the second half. If an ice expedition appeals to you, reading The Terror by Dan Simmons. Good lord that was a good one! Read it surrounded by blankets because all that chilling cold will seem into you. Seriously!

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  11. […] Goolrick 33. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight 34. The Never List by Koethi Zan 35. The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan 36. The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly 37. Bait by J. […]

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