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The Curiosity: A Novel

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  • Posted August 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    When love's timeline is limited, does it make that love any less

    When love's timeline is limited, does it make that love any less meaningful? Reading the premise of The Curiosity sent a thrill reverberating through my body. From the Frankenstein-meets-The-Time-Traveler's-Wife storyline, to the ultimate romantic tragedy of finding a soulmate from another time and place—another plane—this was the kind of sci-fi novel I knew I had been waiting for for a long time. The good news is, in so many ways, this book blew my mind with its originality and argumentative depth. The bad news is, in so many more ways, it also disappointed me. My feelings, clearly, are mixed.

    The Curiosity is narrated in the alternating voices of four arguably essential figures behind the Lazarus Project: Kate (the jaded scientist), Carthage (her controlling, mad-genius supervisor), Jeremiah (the judge and human subject), and Daniel (a seedy, seemingly useless reporter with an inflated sense of self-importance). Each point of view gives interesting perspectives on the discovery of the "unfrozen" man, Jeremiah, and the muddiness and uncertainty between these three characters are what contribute to most of the novel's tension—this was very well done.

    Kiernan has the tendency to go into specific, sometimes rambly detail about, well, everything. I love how his style is both straightforward and analytical—like the scientific method—yet still profound. However, sometimes I felt like it was a bit too much; frequently, there is elaboration on what doesn't need to be elaborated, and it was frustrating and quite laborious to have to skim through all that to get to the good parts. And trust me—when The Curiosity got good, it got really good. The most exciting scenes of the novel—namely, Jeremiah's reanimation—are absolutely electrifying; they will make your heart pound wildly against your ribcage and your fingers tremble. These are the scenes that motivated me to continue reading the book, and that surpassed my expectations. But considering these brilliant pieces were so few and far between—nestled within long chunks of backstory and redundant ruminations—and clocking in at 464 pages, The Curiosity wasn't exactly an easy, or overall enjoyable, read.

    In terms of actual writing style, Stephen Kiernan is no doubt, extremely talented. His voice flows vibrantly and cinematically, but gets stiff during Kate's narrations; she just doesn't seem relatable or likable to me. It bothered me that Daniel had to comment about how "hot" she is every few pages, in order for her attractiveness to be conveyed, but more importantly, she personally doesn't feel genuine. I'm unsure of whether this is because her female perspective was written by a man, or if her personality was just built like that—rigid and impersonal—but I hardly found myself rooting for her as the protagonist.

    Since romance is among my favorite genres, I am typically a huge sucker for these types of "falling in love at the most inopportune moment" stories, but I felt the romance was misplaced in this situation. Kiernan begins with a sensational plot, but adding the romance in kind of cheapened it. Given the circumstances of high-profile scientific research and Kate's professional career, I was turned off by how her first encounter with Jeremiah immediately turned into a romance—it felt inappropriate, and largely, unbelievable. It was very well written and I did find myself being swept away by the angst that came with Kate's budding affection for the off-limits Jeremiah, but overall, I think The Curiosity could have been successful not being a love story. 

    While romance is not the biggest accomplishment of this novel, the intensity of thought-provoking questions raised, certainly is. Obviously, an ethical debate will come naturally with a storyline about a man who becomes a lab specimen, and the fact that Jeremiah is humanized by becoming the object of Kate's attachment further heightens the issue of morals and ethics. Both the scientific rationalizations and the convoluted line of events present readers with heart-stopping revelations and the frenzy that follows, and this was what made The Curiosity so provocative and so stimulating. To me, this novel isn't simply about a man who is revived, and a woman who loves him, but it's about two lost people who experience everything for the first time in their lives again; people who, through each other, are brought back to life.

    Pros: Creative, captivating plot // Multi-dimensional and deep-delving storytelling, rather than just spelling out what happens // Perspectives of different characters are very distinct (and switch from first to second to third person, something I've never encountered before) // Thought-provoking and controversial in topic

    Cons: Long-winded writing style // Bland, rather unmemorable characters, even when given emotions and a backstory // I had trouble sympathizing with Kate, which in turn, defeated the purpose of the "tragic romance" for me

    Verdict: The Curiosity is a fascinating study on human vulnerability, the virtues of love, the astonishing power of science, but it's also a rather bulky novel. Due to its drawn-out chapters and massive page count, I didn't have that much fun reading it, but do I recommend it to others? Yes, yes yes! It's an impressive debut, a force to be reckoned with. Stephen Kiernan begins with an original plotline and cleverly interconnected multiple perspectives to produce a thought-provoking, challenging, and incredibly dynamic debut that I can see doing well on the big screen (luckily, 20th Century Fox has already bought film rights!!!). I suggest you only pick this up if you have a lot of patience and some time on your hands—as much of a page-turner as this book is, it is NOT something you can read within a few sittings.

    Rating: 7 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy!

    Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins!).

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Curios­ity by Stephen P. Kier­nan is a first novel by this a

    The Curios­ity by Stephen P. Kier­nan is a first novel by this award win­ning jour­nal­ist. Mr. Kier­nan has pre­vi­ously writ­ten two non-fiction books.

    On an Arc­tic expe­di­tion, Dr. Kate Philo dis­cov­ers the body of a man who was flash frozen deep in ice. In what could only be con­sid­ered excep­tional sci­ence with a bit of luck, the man, Judge Jere­miah Rice was brought back to life after being dead for more than a century.

    Dr. Kate joins Judge Rice as he learns more about this new soci­ety, while the project’s direc­tor Dr. Eras­tus Carthage tries to exploit the Lazarus Project and Judge Rice for as long as he can.
    And time is run­ning out quickly.

    The Curios­ity by Stephen P. Kier­nan is a social com­men­tary at its core. The eth­i­cal dilem­mas (or lack there of) which rais­ing the dead brings with it are enor­mous, the fab­u­lous sci­ence, out­right hatred, skep­ti­cism and look­ing at soci­ety through new eyes are dis­cussed with­out prej­u­dice, let­ting the reader digest the material.

    The book does not present any answers ques­tions, as dif­fi­cult as they may be. Since the book doesn’t present many answers, I believe it would make an excel­lent choice for a book club. The book exam­ines our media dri­ven cul­ture, ethics, reli­gion and where med­ical & busi­ness inter­cede, the dilem­mas behind such a union and other themes.

    The book is an excit­ing and engag­ing read from start to fin­ish. There are clues at the start which one has to keep in mind while read­ing the book and at the end which, in my opin­ion, make the story more engag­ing. I also loved the way the story is told through mul­ti­ple points of view, Dr. Kate Philo – a sci­en­tist and human­i­tar­ian, Eras­tus Carthage– head of the project, Dixon — a reporter, and Judge Jere­miah Rice – the man brought back to life.

    The char­ac­ter of Eras­tus Carthage stood out for me; he was just much fun to read through. Dr. Carthage is an ego­tis­ti­cal, self-centered ass who is a gen­uine genius through and through. The chap­ters told through his eyes are both hilar­i­ous and dis­turb­ing, the inner thoughts of a man who knows he is the smartest man in the room and views every­one else as men­tal midgets (includ­ing other geniuses) are funny and con­de­scend­ing. The reader also gets a look into Carthage’s mind when he is out­played by oth­ers which leads to inter­est­ing insights and dis­cus­sion points.

    As a fan of his­tory, my only dis­ap­point­ment was the lack of his­to­ri­ans flock­ing Judge Rice when he was awaken. I’m sure his­to­ri­ans would have been stand­ing in line to get a first­hand account of the late 1800’s, and how soci­ety viewed itself then as opposed to being judged by today’s stan­dards. How we are judged by the stan­dards of yore we get through the obser­va­tions of Rice.

    The Curios­ity is a very enjoy­able and inter­est­ing novel. There is a lot going on, in and for this book start­ing at the premise and end­ing at the storytelling.

    Dis­claimer: I got this book for free

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    A decent read


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 11, 2014

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    Posted July 24, 2013

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    Posted July 18, 2013

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    Posted September 20, 2013

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