Bewilderment – Richard Powers – 28.03.22

I really enjoyed this beautiful book (almost 100% – with one reservation…). The story can be read on multiple levels and addresses several issues with sensitivity and poetic strength. A father and his nine year old son are both struggling with grief after the sudden death of their wife/mother. The father studies simulations of possible alien life supporting environments, and the both he and the son have a strong interest in climate change issues. The son is clever and artistic, but suffering from problems with social interactions and impulse control (probable ASD).

They come into contact with a previous friend/college of the dead wife who is working on a ground breaking computer programme. The programme uses neural impulses to play games on the computer screen which effectively trains the user to have much more control over their emotions and impulses. He agrees to let the son be part of the study, with tremendous success .

Spoiler Alert – Don’t read on if you haven’t read the book and you don’t want to know too much about the plot.

The boy discovers that his mother had used the software, and that the computer basically had an imprint of her saved which the boy could communicate with.

The thing that I didn’t like so much about the book was the constant reference to ‘Flowers For Algernon’. The plot of this book very much mirrored the classic sci-fi novella and being quite familiar with the story I felt that it took some of the tension away knowing how everything was going to end up. I also felt that the references to Flowers For Algernon took me out the story and into thinking more about plot structure and technique and less about being engrossed in the characters’ emotional journeys.

Still, I really liked the book overall.

Published by sarahrwray

I'm an erstwhile writer and forever reader and book reviewer.

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