Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Clockwork Man: Book Review




The great thing about reviewing books is that you get sent a lot of books-for free! But then there are also times when you get sent a book you think you wouldn't enjoy. This is exactly what happened with me when I received a copy of The Clockwork Man by William Jablonsky for review. The book falls into the science fiction genre, a genre I've never really been a fan of and hence my initial apprehension. But a few pages into the book and I realized I couldn't have been more wrong by judging a book solely on the genre it falls into (I'm gradually learning not to take categories books are slotted into seriously).

The Clockwork Man by William Jablonsky is essentially the story of Ernst, a man made entirely out of clockwork, by master clockmaker Gruber in Germany in the late 19th century. Ernst lives and serves Gruber and his two young children and even though he’s made out of clockwork, Ernst is more than just an ordinary automaton and is educated by Gruber to be a gentle and caring soul. Considered a marvel of the 19th century, Ernst soon earns himself a host of admirers, many of them being heads of state and foreign dignitaries. The book is in the form of journal entries by Ernst and we soon learn that Ernst has developed a deep love for Gruber’s beautiful young daughter Giselle, and just as their relationship beings to get intimate a tragic incident takes place and the family is torn apart. Ernst is now abandoned and because he knows no other life, he winds himself down in a kind of suicide. A hundred years later, Ernst wakes up in a strange land, with the world and life he has known long lost. Ernst soon finds himself in the company of a slightly eccentric, yet well meaning homeless man Greeley, with whom he spends time living and hiding on the streets of an unfamiliar city, still haunted by the century old tragedy that refuses to let him go.

The Clockwork Man is a layered and gripping tale of love, loyalty and human emotions and even thought it centres on a clockwork man, it is essentially a human story. The narrative is deep and leads you on consistently, drawing you in so powerfully that you will forget you’re reading fiction and will begin to believe that Ernst really exists, wishing he really exists.

My involvement with Ernst and his tale was so intense that I felt an immense sense of sadness when I turned over the last page and would like to applaud Jablonsky for his effortless way with words and this exemplary portrayal of human relationships that will stay with me for a long time.

(This is a book review requested by the publisher)

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