Customer Reviews for

The Speed of Dark

Average Rating 4.5
( 40 )
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(16)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

What Keeps You Being You?

What makes you normal? Who decides what normal is? Do others have the right to make you normal? Is there a place for everyone in society? Lou Arrendale has found his own way in our world without compromising who he is. He's got a job that utilizes his abilities, bu...
What makes you normal? Who decides what normal is? Do others have the right to make you normal? Is there a place for everyone in society? Lou Arrendale has found his own way in our world without compromising who he is. He's got a job that utilizes his abilities, but the upper management at his company feels that people like Lou are pandered to and given expensive benefits. Suddenly Lou is given the opportunity to change from the autistic existence he knows to that of a "normal" person through a new therapy. But how much of Lou's identity is tied into his present state? Is Lou really being given a choice? Suddenly everything that Lou has done to find a stable and comprehensible path in life is called into question. While he grows in his ability to deal with challenges by overcoming the adversity of persecution- Lou still feels the desire to change for many reasons.

Elizabeth Moon gives us a rich look at the nature of identity and a future that offers a choice that has many answers. Lou's perception of reality is brought forth very clearly in the book and it effects how the reader progesses through the story creating a clear path of empathy to his situation. One to make you think...

posted by Jeff_Y on November 28, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

A Fine Book Tainted

As a mother of a son with schizophrenia I was enjoying this book both as entertainment and as a wonderful insturment to increase empathy for those whose minds work in different ways; until I came to these words: [Back in the mid-twentieth century therapis...
As a mother of a son with schizophrenia I was enjoying this book both as entertainment and as a wonderful insturment to increase empathy for those whose minds work in different ways; until I came to these words: [Back in the mid-twentieth century therapists thought autism was a mental illness, like schizophrenia. My mother had read a book by a woman who had been told she had made her child crazy.] This perpetuation of stigma against people with schizophrenia (and their mothers) surprised me. People with schizophrenia have a neurological disease caused largely by an excessive production of dopomine in their brains. It's no more a 'mental illness' than autism and it is not caused by bad parenting. Most importantly, they are not 'crazy' and should not be refered to as such. With the help of a medication that blocks absorbtion of the excess dopamine, my son holds down a job and has a social life in which no one else is aware of his illness.

posted by Anonymous on June 21, 2003

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  • Posted November 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    What Keeps You Being You?

    What makes you normal? Who decides what normal is? Do others have the right to make you normal? Is there a place for everyone in society? Lou Arrendale has found his own way in our world without compromising who he is. He's got a job that utilizes his abilities, but the upper management at his company feels that people like Lou are pandered to and given expensive benefits. Suddenly Lou is given the opportunity to change from the autistic existence he knows to that of a "normal" person through a new therapy. But how much of Lou's identity is tied into his present state? Is Lou really being given a choice? Suddenly everything that Lou has done to find a stable and comprehensible path in life is called into question. While he grows in his ability to deal with challenges by overcoming the adversity of persecution- Lou still feels the desire to change for many reasons.

    Elizabeth Moon gives us a rich look at the nature of identity and a future that offers a choice that has many answers. Lou's perception of reality is brought forth very clearly in the book and it effects how the reader progesses through the story creating a clear path of empathy to his situation. One to make you think...

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2003

    A Fine Book Tainted

    As a mother of a son with schizophrenia I was enjoying this book both as entertainment and as a wonderful insturment to increase empathy for those whose minds work in different ways; until I came to these words: [Back in the mid-twentieth century therapists thought autism was a mental illness, like schizophrenia. My mother had read a book by a woman who had been told she had made her child crazy.] This perpetuation of stigma against people with schizophrenia (and their mothers) surprised me. People with schizophrenia have a neurological disease caused largely by an excessive production of dopomine in their brains. It's no more a 'mental illness' than autism and it is not caused by bad parenting. Most importantly, they are not 'crazy' and should not be refered to as such. With the help of a medication that blocks absorbtion of the excess dopamine, my son holds down a job and has a social life in which no one else is aware of his illness.

    5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2007

    Advanced development

    The story develops superbly starting with the first person perspective of the story's hero Lou. Adequate, but incomplete, descriptions allow the reader to feel the same process of learning that Lou does as we come to understand what he is doing and why. Anyone who has felt panicked and tongue-tied can relate to Lou's discomfort in some situations. Elizabeth Moon wrote this novel giving us an educated guess at the internal workings of the autistic mind. The possibility of a mental adjustment to Lou throughout the story makes one stop to think about what is common, normal, and whether or not that is truly superior to being uncommon. The struggle in the story challenges us to examine change, choices, and sacrifice. The general comparison for this novel will be Flowers for Algernon, but this has only superficial similarities. It is its own, very good, story.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2005

    'If I had not been what I am, what would I have been?'

    Wouldn¿t you like to know the speed of dark? Well Lou Arrendale did. Looking at the world from an autistic eye, Lou thought of thought provoking questions looked at life¿s details that 'normal' people would have surpassed. Lou may have lived his life different, acted, appeared or thought differently but it didn¿t disable him. Disability is defined by the people who call themselves average. How would they know if it were better to be different then normal? No one knows. Lou lived a normal life, for him at least. He owned an apartment and a car, he worked at a pharmaceutical company and he had hobbies such as fencing and listening to classical music. He saw patterns and beauty in ways an average human would never see. Lou was challenged with the thought of becoming ¿normal¿ with new age medicine. Would he see the world in its beauty that it is if he became normal or would he lose that gift? Would becoming normal be beneficial to his way of life, or to win over a woman whom he thought he has no chance with? Only Lou can decide which path he will travel on. This book gave me much more insight in the world of autism. My brother is autistic and more often than not I cannot understand the way he thinks though I have attempted. It has made the world a bit brighter by thinking of ¿normalcy¿. Moons writing helped me in many ways in seeing the peculiar ways these gifted people see. I would not call autism a disability. It is just a different way of looking at the world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    An amazing book!!!!

    This is an amazing book. The fact that it is told from the perspective of someone who actually is autistic is a refreshing change from other fantasy and science fiction novels that have tried to portray the life of someone disabled. I think that it does lead one to ask the question what would they do if they had a power to see the world like no one else could if they would give it up just to be normal. I think that Ms. Moon's going off of her own life experiences have an autistic child show her growth as a writer. Not many would have been brave enough to do that. She shows the world that they are people no more no less then anyone else

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2013

    Facinating

    Elizabeth Moon shows real insight into the mind of autistic people. I had trouble putting ing down. Well worth reading again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    What makes you YOU?

    Very thought provoking, well written book pondering the questing of who we are. Interesting subject, well written, enjoyed it very much.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lou Arrendale is a high-functioning autistic man in a near-futur

    Lou Arrendale is a high-functioning autistic man in a near-future world. When his employer starts to put pressure on him to be one of the first human subjects in a dangerous brain-altering experimental “cure” for autism, he questions what it is to be Lou. Is his autism part of his personality? What does it mean to be “normal?” Are the normals even normal? This book is full of deep questions of identity and categorizing of humans. It is also about mistreatment of disabled people by bigots. In fact, I thought the bigotry was a little over-done to the point of not being realistic…but maybe this is Moon’s idea of what the near future will be like. Or maybe I’m naïve. :) This book was very thought-provoking and interesting, though I thought it lacked verisimilitude. And there were three (apparently) independent secondary characters named Bart within a 25 paged interval. Not sure what Moon was trying to say there—maybe she really likes the name Bart. :) Anyway, despite my nit-pickiness, I thought it was quite a good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    A good read

    I found this book to be fascinating. It really give a wonderful 1st person account of autism. Incredibly interesting!!! I do not "get into" Si-Fi, but this book was great with its' "what if" futuristic story line. Buy It!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    A new favorite

    It was very easy to get lost in this book and only took a few days to read because i didnt want to put it down. The characters emotions came through very well and braught me nearly to tears more than once. The ending is bittersweet, but it left me happy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    powerful tale similar to Flowers for Algernon and Rain Man

    Though Lou Arrendale suffers from autism, he refuses to allow that condition from stopping him from living a fruitful ¿normal¿ life. Lou works at a pharmaceutical company and has many friends. He has adapted to the troubles his condition causes him in a non-autistic society by adopting polite mannerisms such as shaking hands and using salutations. Lou tries very hard to behave ¿normal¿ when he is in the urban wilderness. However, the CEO of his firm wants to cut costs by firing the autistic work force that needs special assistance to perform. Lou is given an option of taking an experimental drug that will allegedly turn him into a normal, but he hesitates. He worries that if he becomes normal is he Lou? Adding to his dilemma is his deep feelings for Marjory Shaw, a normal who probably will never love the present Lou. Would the revisionist Lou still love her? Before he can decide what to do, Lou must hide from a stalker who wants to harm him. THE SPEED OF DARK is an incredible novel that captures the essences of an intelligent autistic person struggling to independently survive in a constantly changing world. Though the stalking angle adds suspense, the excitement of the subplot takes away from the powerful themes of focusing on autism and the ethical issue of chemical cures to the mind and body changing the essence of the person. This strong tale with powerful characters will remind the audience of Flowers for Algernon and Rain Man as Elizabeth Moon takes the reader inside the soul of the hero. Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2002

    Very powerful and moving.

    The Speed of Dark provides a fascinating and unique glimpse into the mysterious world of the autistic. Written with clarity and feeling from the perspective of the autistic Lou Arrendale, Elizabeth Moon draws the reader into his perceptions in a manner that would be impossible using any other technique. Because of this and other similarities, there will be many comparisons of this novel with Flowers for Algernon. The major difference however is the degree of so-called impediment. Lou is competent and lucid, whereas Charley was not. Each character is given the opportunity to participate in a procedure which would remove their disability and render them ¿normal¿, Lou is capable of making a rational and informed decision, but Charley could not. In point of fact, the aptitude that Lou shows in researching this operation shows he possesses genius level intellect in stark contrast to his lack of social ability due to his differently-wired brain. It is this contrast that drives the narrative. The author makes it clear, as the mother of an autistic son, that autism and intelligence can mix. This, and the concept that autism is not a disease to cure, seem to be the main point of this novel. This book could just as easily have been written about a black person in an all white community. There is obviously nothing intrinsically wrong with the autistic or black person, but in a community where he or she is unique, the onus of being different will fall upon this hapless victim. The major difference here is that the autistic person may not be able to put a voice to this issue. Lou Arrendale does, with feeling and passion. He knows who he is and does not understand why anyone would want him to be otherwise. The novel is thoughtful, warm, and engaging. Lou evokes our pity and wonder simultaneously, quickly shifting from helpless child to crippled genius. The manner in which he manages his unrequited love for Marjory and the anger and jealousy directed at him by a man he considered his friend shows a self-contradictory combination of competence and ineptitude, which serve to make the character that much more realistic. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to further understand those with different abilities. The insights one can gain from reading this work are invaluable. Well done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2014

    Excellent!

    Another great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2013

    Brady

    He walked back in

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    Hazel

    Walked in and sat down opening her binder writing in it and doing research on things

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2007

    good read

    it was a good read, i found myself pulling for the main character the whole time. it keeps you interested but the ending i found to be a bit disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2007

    Gets you to look at life differently

    This is a well written book that challenges the way we percieve 'mental disorders' and mental illness. The understanding of conditions which have been labled as 'mental illness' including autism is changing. Doctors are able to identify physical causes for a number of illnesses. The person who has one of these conditions is normal for them. This book illustrates this concept with the main character. Prehaps the day will come when no one is labled crazy and no blame is attached for different mental perspectives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    Beauty of the human experience.

    Many elements in this novel. Thought provoking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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