Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: The Clock Work Man by William Jablonski

Yet another book from Blog Adda to review and this one was a very interesting read right from page 1 primarily because it was written in first person as a biographical narration of a 'clockwork man'. 'The Clockwork Man' by William Jablonski was yet another new author I got to try thanks to BlogAdda's Book Review Program.  Strangely, wikipedia did not have an entry for William Jablonski nor for the Clockwork Man novel.  
Strangely, the clockwork man is not referred to as a 'Robot' in the novel. The reason would be that robots have always been considered as 'electrical/electronic' contraptions while the mechanical man in our story is a purely mechanical 'contraption' devoid of any electronics but instead based on clock work and is designed by an expert creator of artistic clocks.  
The way the clockwork man describes the things around him … the creator, his kids, his relationship with them, the way people behave and react around him (in his city and even in distant lands), the way he perceives the human world and their emotions… it's all very interesting and offer a different perspective of life. There is a break in the story and when the story resumes, the clockwork man views the world with a different perspective and it is equally interesting to see our world from a third-party perspective.
By accentuating the feelings and thoughts of the mechanical being; the author indirectly makes us aware of what we are losing out and missing out in life; things very special to human beings which we ignore and don't enjoy.
In the story, we find that our clockwork man is biased and more attentive to the little daughter of his master. It reminded me of the movie Bicentennial Man. The story moves forward with our clockwork man getting a little intimate with the daughter … and then … the daughter is gone. She is gone from the story, gone from their lives. The story then takes a break when he attempts 'suicide' by not winding himself. When the story resumes, the setting has changed and over a century has passed since he went into 'mechanical coma'. The clockwork man has several unsolved mysteries and his life becomes a continuous process of discovery about himself as well as about the new world around him.
It is interesting to read about how the clockwork man 'feels' although he is supposed to be devoid of feelings. He himself dismisses some of his feelings as defects in his clockwork mechanism. A beautiful example being him losing consciousness of time when looking at something very beautiful (something we humans can easily identify with) but our clockwork man attributes the 'loss of time' or 'losing track of time' to some mechanical defect. We (the reader) are left to wonder if it is indeed mechanical or has the mechanical man been infused with 'life' and 'consciousnesses' just like humans. Another example is when he sees/observes/'feels' something that is contrary to what is 'master' has taught him (and has a feeling that the Master was wrong). THAT is a defect according to him (a very unacceptable defect).  
An interesting aspect of the story was the use of characters like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford who visit the 'Master' and inspect the clockwork man. It would have been a stunt had the 2 of them appeared just for a visit, but they are involved with the story beyond the visit and have bearing upon the course of the story; making it a pretty interesting read. Hitler is yet another connection in the story although the name never appears in the story.
The book is an extremely interesting read as we see the world from the point of view of the clockwork man. This also means that he narrates perfectly emotional moments in a completely factual and matter-of-fact manner but at the same time inciting emotions in the reader. The success of the writer comes out in this quality of the narrative.
The only thing that is disappointing about the story is the end/climax. It is pretty anti-climactic. All through the last 30% of the story, I was wondering how the story would end and was tempted more than several times to jump to the last few pages and read them. Unfortunately, the story ends kind of abruptly and we are left wondering if the author was given a 20 minute ultimatum to finish the story and submit the manuscript … and the author just managed to complete it (like a student writes furiously trying to complete his exam paper while the teacher is pulling at the answer paper)
Wish the story had ended on a better note (and I don't mean a happy ending; Just a more interesting one). Also, I will try to catch up some other novel which is return in first person.
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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