Title: The Curiosity
Author: Stephen Kiernan
No. of Pages: 320
Origins: Harper Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 9 July 2013
Bottom Line: Designed to generate plenty of discussion about science, ethics, and modern society
“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. Remarkably, the frozen man is brought back to the lab and successfully 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.
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…and all too soon, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.”
Thoughts: Dr. Kate Philo is at the top of her field when she makes the discovery of a lifetime. Yet her discovery sets in motion events that will force her to question everything she believed about her chosen field, her employer, and her own motives. Stephen Kiernan’s The Curiosity explores what happens when science stops being hypothetical and starts involving actual humankind and results in profound consequences for mankind.
Jeremiah Rice is such an enjoyable character. From the moment he wakes up to the moment he slips out of sight, his wonder at his surroundings, his obvious pleasure in the simple beauty of life, and his firm sense of respect and decorum are refreshing and inspiring. His profound grief at everything that he lost is incredibly touching, yet his ability to move forward and adapt to all of the many changes of the past 100 years is amazing. While the science behind the discovery and reanimation process is far-fetched, it takes nothing away from Judge Rice’s character. Even his narrated chapters have an innocence about them that is charming. Readers everywhere could take a page out of Judge Rice’s personal handbook when it comes to manners, personal appearance, and enjoying life.
As any story is bound to be when it discusses the extension of life or the mere idea of bringing back someone from the dead, The Curiosity is as much a social commentary as it is a work of fiction. The ethical implications of the Lazarus Project take crystal-clear shape as Judge Rice reenters the world and faces the barrage of interest, skepticism, and outright hatred. Mr. Kiernan chooses not to answer any of these difficult questions himself but lays out certain arguments and lets readers form their own conclusions, if there any to be had. Because of the ethics angle of the novel, The Curiosity would make for an excellent, if not potentially explosive, book club selection.
Weaknesses abound in The Curiosity; however, its individual weaknesses do not detract from the overall story. In fact, to focus on them only serves to distract from the beauty of the main story, and it is a beautiful story. The simplicity which defines Jeremiah also serves to highlight just how low society has gotten with its prurient interests, uncouthness, and the prevailing media frenzy. While Jeremiah’s reanimation causes ethical debates, it also makes a statement on modern society, one that will resound with readers and generate plenty of discussion.