Khanh the Killjoy

The Curiosity - Stephen P. Kiernan Actual rating: 2.5"Hey, doc, what are you expecting today?"He halts like a soldier, turns slowly to me. "I expect us to replace God."For me, this was a lot more Time Traveler's Wife than Michael Crichton. There is a fair bit of science thrown at us initially, but this is not a book to read if you want to ponder about the innermost workings of science. It is more narrative storytelling than anything else. "Thriller" & "Science Fiction?" That's a stretch.The writing is good, the narrative style not confusing, despite the fact that we are getting the story from four separate points of views. The premise is intriguing, but the delivery was rather dull and failed to hold my interest. This was a really long book. I have no problems with long books at all, but I do feel that they need to be worthwhile of the time I choose to invest in them. While this story was good, even interesting at times, I didn't feel like the time I devoted to reading it was well-spent, and I had to really restrain my compulsive book-switching self to continue focusing my attention on this story.The premise: present-day United States. The head honcho of the "Lazarus Project" is Dr. Erasmus Carthage. Dr. Kate Philo is just an afterthought (more on that later). Amidst a rash of complaints on the ethical issues of reanimating frozen creatures, the Lazarus Projects brings back a man frozen during the turn of the century, a 38-year old judge, Jeremiah Rice. What follows is a lot of media focus and a lot of attention on the entire project due to the nature of playing god and the overwhelmingly awkward love story of Kate and Jeremiah.I found the idea of reanimation from a frozen state interesting, even if the explanations of the book doesn't quite cover the topic so thoroughly and credibly as I would have liked. There's a lot of scientific issues that prevents our current scientific progess from doing so, I won't go into details (yawn) but a lot of the problems has to do with the destruction of the cell membrane if it is frozen improperly. This book tries to explain it, and does a decent enough job for me to leave off a long-winded rantcriticism of the process. The science backing is decent within this book, but I just wished there was more of it. That is why I hesitate to compare this to other authors like Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, who cover topics like these so much more plausibly and thoroughly within their books.The characters: Our three modern-day characters are all painfully tropey and recycled. Our revived character did not feel like a realistic portrayal of a man from his time period.Dr. Kate Philo: She is, literally, perfect. Thirty-five years old, a genius, impeccably educated, and exceptionally beautiful to boot (with an ah-maaaazing ass). The problem I have with Kate is that she does not feel like a scientist. Instead of being the truly essential "Yale-credentialed biologist" that she is, Kate is more like the token woman on the team. She does nothing. Kate makes some speeches and talks to the media. In no way did I get the feel that she contributed a major role on the team that was involved in the Lazarus project. Kate is Jeremiah's babysitter. She is a nurturing nurse, who watches over him as he revives. She is not a scientist. Kate is soft, she is emotional, she is there to provide the "woman's touch." No, thank you. I like my female characters stronger than that.Falling in love and pursuing a relationship with your subject? That is a bigger ethical violation for me than reviving the frozen. Fucking insta-love, man. Kate watches over Jeremiah as he is being awaked from his comatose state after being revived, and her behavior is all sorts of creepy. She doesn't even know Jeremiah at all."I leaned down...who can say what possessed me? Call it curiosity, call it wonder. I brought my face closer to his neck, nearly to his chest, felt his presence. This man was not an abstraction but an actuality. Never in my life did I feel clearer about wanting to know about something. I took a good deep sniff. His skin was warm, like any man’s.I noticed something then, a grittiness on my hand. I rubbed my thumb and pinkie against each other; there were granules like sand. I brought my forefinger to my mouth. I tasted.Sure enough: salt."Talk about a frozen dinner!Dr. Erastus Carthage: The "egotistical bastard." The quintessential scientist. Cold-hearted and utterly focused on fame and results, no matter who gets hurt along the way. His narrative was annoying for me, he refers to himself as "you." The narrative tries to make him into an impersonal, royal sort of character, and it worked quite well in that I never connected with him as a person, and I liked him not at all. He is so utterly sure of himself, so condescending, so patronizing, so disdainful of anyone who is not himself."Exposure, credibility, fame. There is a prize they give out in Sweden for people like you...Yes, you are a generous man. Let them come and learn. The Erastus Carthage Academy for the Advancement of Humanity. Nice ring to it. Dignified. Perhaps Harvard would offer your academy a home. Or MIT."Daniel Dixon: The stereotypical bluff, alpha-male jackass of a reporter with a full media access to the Lazarus Project (and an ulterior motive). He's unlikeable, despite the author's attempt to make him more relatable with a tragic backstory."That is the only reason I took this gig—to tear [Dr. Carthage] down. And may I just say, the trip has had precious few compensating amenities. Dull food. No booze...The only perk, come to think of it, the only real bonus for a dog like me, is the perfectly shaped, wonderfully toned, and tragically unattainable derriere of one Kate Philo, Ph.D."Jeremiah Rice: The revived man. His narrative is more...poetic than the rest, which I suppose is an attempt at giving us the feeling that he is a character from the late 19th century. To me, Jeremiah's character was never realistic. His adjustment to today's world was too quick to be believable. I will not go into his story, but Jeremiah's acceptance of Kate and her role (coming from his time era), and his relationship with her despite his past made him an ultimately unbelievable character for me. Still, I enjoyed his story, his character, and his part of the narrative more than anyone else within this book.Recommended for readers with a lot of time on their hands, and patience for flawed characters.