The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan (2013)
432 pages
Goodreads Summary: Michael Crichton meets The Time Traveler’s Wife in this powerful debut novel in which a man, frozen in the Arctic ice for more than a century, awakens in the present day.

Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures-plankton, krill, shrimp-”back to life.” Never have the team’s methods been attempted on a large life form.

Heedless of the consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston, and reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was-is-a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the Lazarus Project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and massive protests by religious fundamentalists.

Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah’s new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.

A gripping, poignant, and thoroughly original thriller, Stephen Kiernan’s provocative debut novel raises disturbing questions about the very nature of life and humanity-man as a scientific subject, as a tabloid plaything, as a living being: A curiosity.

I’ve seen this book around for some time and the cover drew me in while the plot sounded really intriguing.  While I did enjoy the book, I think the synopsis which calles it a cross between Michael Crichton and The Time Traveler’s Wife is not accurate at all.  So this book wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

Yes, it’s about a man found frozen in ice and brought back to life.  But I didn’t find it a very convincing love story.  It seemed to be more a tale about science, technology, and ethics.

While it seems to be the story of Dr. Kate Philo, the chapters jump back and forth between narrators.  There is Kate’s perspective, then a journalist, then an egotistical scientist named Carthage, and finally the point of view of Jeremiah, the re-animated man, himself.

The chapters narrated by Carthage were just plain weird.  He spoke of himself in the third person and was very annoying.  He thought himself smarter than everyone else and only wanted fame, attention, and glory.  Then there was the journalist who kept commenting on Kate’s ass and how attractive she was.  That got old quickly and he was annoying as well.

The most interesting parts were told by Kate and Jeremiah.  It was interesting to see how Jeremiah observed and reacted to the drastic changes which took place in the world since he was last alive.  And Kate’s opinion changed over time as she came to see him as a whole person, not just a specimen or property of science.  It didn’t seem quite realistic to me that she fell in love with him though and I wouldn’t call this book a love story in the least.

While there were some thrilling elements, I just didn’t get that sucked into the story or find myself caring about the characters all that much.  The book is quite long as well and I think could have been done much more succinctly.  But the unique story and interesting pieces of science were thought provoking and it was enjoyable enough for me to finish.

I think some people will definitely like this book, I just don’t think it has been accurately portrayed, which led to my let down.  Still, if you know what you’re getting going in, it could be quite enjoyable.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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