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Flowers for Algernon

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  303,967 Ratings  ·  10,005 Reviews
With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's inte ...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 1958)
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Stratagem Is there such a thing as a PG rating (equivalent) for books? I don't really know. I'd say that this book contains some 'mild nudity' and 'mild…moreIs there such a thing as a PG rating (equivalent) for books? I don't really know. I'd say that this book contains some 'mild nudity' and 'mild profanity' but It'd probably get a PG rating if translated 1-on-1 to the big screen...(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Emily May
May 17, 2015 Emily May rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am finding it hard to put into words the vast range of emotions I experienced whilst reading this little tale of hope, perseverance, truth and humanity. When it comes to science fiction, I would hesitate before declaring myself a fan, simply because there's only a certain amount of aliens, spaceships and intergalactic battles I can take before I start to become distracted. A good action scene on a distant planet only takes my enjoyment so far and the books I have enjoyed most from this genre ...more
Amy
Jan 10, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book in 8th grade, in my english class. I remembered enjoying it, being fascinated in how the author painted the picture that I really was reading Charlie's journal by use of spelling, grammar and punctuation related to the level Charlie was at when writing the entries. What I didn't know at the time was the people who created the text book I used felt it was okay to chop whole chapters out of the middle of the book. They felt pulling out whole sections was okay in the name of ...more
Simon
Apr 01, 2012 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
This has to be one of my favourite sub-genres; psychological science fiction. This is up there with the likes of A Scanner Darkly and More Than Human. These are the sort of SF books that I would recommend to those who look down on the genre.

This book explores such themes as the nature of intelligence, the effects of intelligence on the way you see others and the world around you, as well as social attitudes towards people with mental problems.

The narrative structure is a series of progress repo
...more
Wil Wheaton
Jun 10, 2009 Wil Wheaton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Heartbreaking and beautiful. Required reading, as far as I am concerned.
Lyn
Aug 27, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it
Captivating and heartbreaking.

Daniel Keyes 1958 publication about an intellectually disabled man who, through an experimental medical procedure, gains genius level IQ is a classic of science fiction.

Charlie Gordon began attending classes at night for “retarded adults” so that he could learn to read and to “be like other people”. With the assistance of his night school teacher, he is interviewed by scientists and is accepted into the experimental program.

At the laboratory he meets Algernon, a mou
...more
Cassy
Sep 10, 2012 Cassy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cassy by: NPR Top 100 SciFi & Fantasy Books
This book was hidden in plain sight. Meaning I was surprised to realize the majority of my Goodreads friends had already read a book that I had never heard of before. Correct me if I am wrong, but I suspect it was a requisite high school read for many.

One reviewer mentioned the abridged version he read in school had trimmed all the sexual bits. What a shame! I may have arrived late, but at least that meant I was introduced to the raw version. The investigation of a 32 year old man struggling fo
...more
Brian Yahn
Jan 19, 2016 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it
More than anything else, Flowers for Algernon is thought provoking. It's also sad when it needs to be, enjoyable for the most part, and often comical. Although it casts a gloomy aspect over the meaning of life, it's somehow still uplifting and motivational.

It makes you think about, if you know the end--that you're going to die--is there really a point to carrying on? And even with conditions as extraordinary as Charlie Gordon's, Daniel Keyes, explores that question vividly--through this expertly
...more
Candi
"The walls between people are thin here, and if I listen quietly, I hear what is going on. Greenwich Village is like that too. Not just being close - because I don't feel it in a crowded elevator or on the subway during the rush - but on a hot night when everyone is out walking, or sitting in the theater, there is a rustling, and for a moment I brush against someone and sense the connection between the branch and trunk and the deep root. At such moments my flesh is thin and tight, and the unbear ...more
Jean
I first came across Flowers For Algernon as a short story in a science fiction anthology many years ago. It seemed an enjoyably poignant and perceptive slight tale. By 1966 the author Daniel Keyes had developed his story into this full length novel, the joint winner of the year's Nebula award for the best Science Fiction novel. It was the high point of Daniel Keyes’s career. As well as nonfiction he has written several other science fiction books which explore the workings of the mind. But the c ...more
Michael
Oct 31, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
When I was in junior high school the movie Charly was big. Everyone saw it, and one girl, I can’t remember her name, had a Charly protective book cover and was so obsessed with the movie that she’d write the name, with the backwards “R” on everything, including adding it as a middle name to her own name on tests and papers she would hand in. She was in all the school plays and sang beautifully so my guess is her connection was with the play and the movie as opposed to the subject of the story. O ...more
Rita
Sep 25, 2013 Rita rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially those who like to experience emotional journeys.
One of the most touching stories ever written. And no, it's not Romance! It's Sci-Fi. This is a first person narrative that has been written as a series of progress reports from a deeply retarded man, who can barely be considered literate. His writing is ful of bad grammar and spelling mistakes. At first, if you are not prepared for it, this makes this book a little hard to read, and some passages even have to be re-read a couple of times before you understand them. Our protagonist goes through ...more
Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨
description

[10/10]

When the natural cycle is disrupted,
description

it descends to this!
description

There was no way to stop the sands of knowledge from slipping through the hourglass of my mind.


This is the gut-wrenchingly poignant tale of one simpleton, Charlie Gordon, who went on to become a genius from being a gene-ass (short for 'genetically cursed ass'), and from a genius back to being a jeanass(that was what Charlie thought they were going to make him after the operashun operation.)

He was born jeanass.
He was made gen
...more
Theresa
Jul 23, 2016 Theresa rated it it was amazing
I read "Flowers for Algernon" when I was in junior high, (the '90s rule!) and all these years later, this book still makes me cry. A must-read!
Manny
Dec 18, 2012 Manny rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rohisa
3.5

Imagine, if you can, having a severe learning disability.

Imagine being abused by your own mother because she couldn't cope with the fact that your aren't "normal" like other kids. Imagine being locked up in a basement because your "moronic" behavior might embarrass your family in front of the guests. Imagine being abandoned by your family and dump in a mental asylum because your mother couldn't take care of your mental disability anymore. Imagine living your life believing you've friends but
...more
Anne
Aug 07, 2013 Anne rated it it was ok
There is nothing specific in this book that dates it -- it could have been written 4 years ago instead of 40 -- except for it's obsession with a certain brand of psychology and sex with near strangers. In this way, it just screams "I WAS WRITTEN IN THE 60s!"

I dunno. Books from this era just bug me in general. They are so smugly sure of their analysis of the whys and wherefores of human nature, yet they still cling to the archetypes. Charlie knows The Puffed-up Scientist and The Down-to-earth Sci
...more
Monique

Original post here.

"..the men of the cave would say of him that up
he went and down he came without the eyes..."
- Plato


There hasn't been a book - so far - that has moved me to tears like Flowers for Algernon did. I still had several pages to go before the end of the novel, but already I was clumsily wiping my eyes and runny nose, concealing my face from my husband lest he think me silly for crying over a book.

Flowers for Algernon is about Charlie Gordon, a 33-year-old mental retardate whose (in)
...more
Diane
Jun 18, 2014 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was just as powerful as it was when I first read it in 8th grade.*

I love stories in which a character gets smarter, and I liked how Keyes showed Charlie's transformation from a "retardate" to genius, and how Charlie suddenly understood his world better. But what goes up, must come down, and the last part of the story is heartbreaking. The story raises so many questions: Is it ethical to experiment on humans? Was Charlie better off when he was smart? Or was ignorance bliss?

I would rec
...more
Carol
A touching and unforgettable story that grabs you from the very first page and doesn't let go. The movie was good too, but the book offers so much more detail into Charlie's feelings as he navigates through his emotional journey.

Highly recommend this fast-paced tale.

Maciek
How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence.

This book tricked me. It's the 25th novel released as a part of the SF Masterworks, but it's hardly science-fictiony - which is totally not what I expected: I thought that the novel would be set in deep space and would serve as a commentary on the (mis)use of new, extraordinary technolog
...more
Apatt
May 24, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"She said for a person who God gave so little to you did more than a lot of people with brains they never even used. I said that all my friends are smart people and their good. They like me and they never did anything that wasnt nice. Then she got something in her eye and she had to run out to the ladys room."
Ah! Right in the feels! (Don't worry about the typos, they are supposed to be there!).

I read Flowers for Algernon decades ago in its original short story form, this is one of those storie
...more
Stephen
6.0 stars. On my list of All Time Favorites. This book's emotional impact on me was significant. I read it almost 17 years ago and it still sticks in my mind as one of the most heart-wrenching SF stories ever written. It is a short book and an easy read (as far as being able to get through it quickly) but VERY, VERY powerful. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1967)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Award
Voted to Locus list of All Time
...more
Kristen
Feb 21, 2012 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: own, fiction, sci-fi
I liked this book because I too have a filthy rat for a friend.
Ron
Oct 12, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, literature
There are books I've found that are inherently sad, but very much worth reading because these books make me feel and look at the world around me. When I say ‘world’ in this case, I mean people, not the place. People make this world go ‘round, so to speak, or at least affect our daily experience. So when it is determined that Charlie has an IQ of 68 at 33 years of age, it’s people who created those tests, who counted the numbers on the calendar, and have ultimately compared Charlie to others. ...more
Becky
Mar 19, 2016 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Amy
Flowers for AlgernonI have three confessions to make:

1) I never read this book in school.

2) For some reason, this book is associated with the A-bomb in my mind. No idea why.

3) There was beer at my bookclub meeting, and I drank a goodish amount of it, so this review may ramble.

Needless to say, Flowers for Algernon was very, very different than I had always thought. I honestly cannot tell you why I thought that... just that I did. It's just one of those weird association things that people have. O
...more
Jim
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read it, you should. I never re-read this book, although I get it out & look at it occasionally. It's too heart breaking.

Charlie, the title of the movie made from this book & the name of the hero, is retarded. Science gives him intelligence, along with Algernon, a lab rat. The story is told through Charlie's diary & feels very personal. Very well done.


*** Spoiler Alert *****



Charlie gains intelligence, love & yet no mastery of his fate. He becomes a genius & the
...more
Paula W
Oct 04, 2016 Paula W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I may not ever again be able to show my face at my neighborhood watering hole after my embarrassing destruction that occurred over the last few chapters when, for some reason, I thought it would be okay to read this in public.

This is such a fantastic book. It isn't light and easy reading, though. The story of Charlie as experimental brain surgery helps him go from an IQ in the 60s to an IQ of 185 is full of ethical conundrums. Is it okay to artificially alter someone in that way? And what happe
...more
Dawn
This felt... Profound. That sounds lame, but it's accurate for me. While I was reading this, it felt like each and every word was being burned into my heart. I've always been drawn to handicapped characters (my younger brother is handicapped, so I have a soft spot), and this was no exception. But beyond Charlie's handicap, to then to watch his progression throughout the book.. It bought to mind so many questions. Most of them are unanswerable, but still, it made me think. This is the kind of ...more
Lit Bug
Sep 27, 2013 Lit Bug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, fiction, owned, sf

This book had a wonderful premise – Charlie Gordon, a 32-year old mentally retarded man, but kind, warm and enthusiastic to become ‘smart’ like his peers, is chosen for an experiment to increase his IQ – after the experiment was successful on Algernon, a white lab mouse. With a successful operation, he starts gaining ‘smartness’ exponentially, and over the course of several months, turns into a genius – but at a price – not only does he learn about the bitter truths of living in a cruel world, b
...more
My Inner Shelf
Mar 18, 2008 My Inner Shelf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Si dans votre entourage vous avez des personnes qui n’ont un mauvais a priori sur le SF, offrez-leur ce livre, cela leur montrera l’étendue des thèmes d’une genre aussi vaste que profond. Avec ce roman on touche au sublime. Une histoire poignante, celle d’un jeune homme attardé mental, qui souhaite plus que tout devenir intelligent. Une fois son rêve réalisé, il prend conscience du monde qui l’entoure, des individus, et aussi de lui-même en tant qu’être humain, avec son passé, et ses souvenirs ...more
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Around the Year i...: Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes 9 44 Nov 28, 2016 11:55AM  
Why couldn't Charlie make love with Alice, but was able to make love with Fay? 1 14 Oct 26, 2016 10:17AM  
HMSA Reads: Spoilers: Flowers for Algernon 8 34 Aug 26, 2016 05:48PM  
is it interesting? 5 44 Jun 03, 2016 07:48AM  
A Certain Quote 7 108 Jun 03, 2016 07:19AM  
Science Fiction A...: * April 2014 Themed Read - Flowers for Algernon 41 71 May 28, 2016 04:23AM  
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Daniel Keyes was an American author best known for his Hugo award-winning short story and Nebula award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.

Keyes was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. At age 17, he joined the U.S. Maritime Service as ship's purser. He obtained a B.A. in psychology from B
...more
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“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.” 846 likes
“Thank God for books and music and things I can think about.” 443 likes
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