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Flowers for Algernon

Narrated by: Adam Sims
Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (81 ratings)

Non-member price: $29.96

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Publisher's Summary

Charlie Gordon, a floor sweeper born with an unusually low IQ, has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that doctors hope will increase his intelligence - a procedure that has been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.

All Charlie wants is to be smart and have friends, but the treatment turns him into a genius.

Then Algernon begins to fade.

What will become of Charlie?

Read by Adam Sims.

©1966 Daniel Keyes (P)2017 Orion Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"A masterpiece of poignant brilliance...heartbreaking." ( The Guardian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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An underrated classic

This is one of the most fantastic, heart-breaking and beautiful books I’ve ever read in my life!

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An archetype to how we conjure our own suffering

Firstly, the narration was to say the least, compelling. To say more, it's the best I've come across on Audible so far. The book presents the parallels of intelligence and retardation with acute perceptibility. Through the internal monologue of the protagonist framed piquantly as progress reports, we trace the sufferings faced by persons on both ends of the bell curve. The story is raw and a tear jerker, as the naivety of the retarded Charlie Gordon is betrayed by reality. As he gains intelligence we find the protagonist haunted by his awareness. Malice is unearthed in every corner of his memory as his intellect reveals the nuances of seemingly good intentions. Human behavior and its various masquerade's are unveiled to show an ugly pitiful face. Only to have the struggle of acceptance to these new discoveries strangle him. The author accounts for the pursuit of true meaning in a man who is distrustful of his own instinct, open-eyed to deterministic pretexts. And Keyes plays with the idea that one needs additionally, to justify their existence with science, or at least, sound metaphysics. For me, it was the cruelty involved in giving the protagonist a second cross to bear that made this novel a real stab to the heart. The book comments on the base musings we all feel during our pursuit of self-justifications in ways that hit close to home. It's a thrilling and emotional read

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A journey of emotions

While Charlie's journey was extreme, changes in our own environment impacts is jst as strongly. Loved it.

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Heart-wrenching story, beautifully performed.

"How was the narrator?" This was a performance, not narration. I've given up books in which the reading intruded on the story, but this was something exceptional, exquisite.

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Amazing novel

If you could sum up Flowers for Algernon in three words, what would they be?

Challenging, moving, interesting

What does Adam Sims bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Really well read. Good character voices without trying to be overly theatrical

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, but dont want to spoil the plot.

Any additional comments?

This is an amazing book and well worth the listen. I knew the concept before I started it but never imagined how deeply it would be explored.

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  • Markus Pfaff
  • 21-03-2018

Finished entire book in one sitting.

Beautiful and flawless performance by the narrator Adam Sims.
Baffled at how incredibly well the story has aged. If I didn't know it was from the 60s, and someone told that it came out just last year, I probably wouldn't even have questioned it. That's pretty rare for sci-fi, imho.

Thank you, CLSM, for recommending me this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Knut
  • 07-11-2017

The most dynamic character ever.

It's hard not to love this book. I felt a lot of empathy for Charlie, and even though Charlie's became a true dick, I really liked him. I the ending was not as satisfying as I had hoped, but it's a really minor inconvenience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • julia
  • 29-05-2019

Wonderful but dark

I had heard of the title of this book a lot
but never thought of trying it until yesterday.

The story was so compelling that I finished the whole thing in a day.
It makes you think a lot about how far science should go in altering the way things are.
And the character felt so real, which somtimes made it difficult to listen to not so very pleasant things happening inside his head.

I liked the book but for some very dark, painful moments throughout, especially towards its end.
I found myself skipping these parts.
But I guess these were necessary to do justice to what it would really feel like to be in the protagonist's shoes.


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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-05-2019

Immersive

I'm pretty new to audio books but this was the most immersive experience I had so far. The performance was really great.

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  • Eric Palevsky
  • 05-04-2019

makes you wonder about mankind

very interesting point of view. heartbreaking and not so science fiction any more. read it!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-04-2019

Extraordinary and so very painful and real

As I have just finished this book I am left I awe and at the same time in so much pain. The characters and story are written so realistically and masterfully due to the author's background and it brings some real ideas about our relationship with and towards the mentally retarded into focus.
The performance by the voice actor is stellar and I really think he could have not been better cast.
Definitely give it a go if you want a story about, in it's essence, humanity but be prepared for the punches to the gut emotionally.
I feel like a better human being for having experienced it and I will be sharing it with the people around me.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-05-2018

To think about

It's really sad that we take our inteligence for granted most of the time. How we waste something so precious and don't struggle to use the full potential of our minds.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-04-2018

Thrilling.

This is the kind of book that takes real talent to perform effectively. And Sims does a terrific job.

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  • Heinrich
  • 05-04-2018

Marvellous

The performances is great. Well worth every single penny. It really brings the character to life.

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  • Kaggy
  • 05-09-2017

He may forget himself but you never will

My first encounter with the story of Charly Gordon was many years ago when I watched the film ‘Charly’ probably in the mid-seventies. (Cliff Robertson won a well-deserved Oscar playing the title role). Charly is one of those characters that never really left me so I was delighted to be reminded of the book when it was mentioned in Matt Haig’s book ‘How to Stop Time’ and was even more pleased to find that this modern classic from the late fifties has recently been issued as a audiobook.
This story may be categorised as science fiction but in reality it is a deep exploration into the psyche of a man who up to the age of 32 has been a moron (using the delightful parlance of the day), but is then given the opportunity to massively improve his intelligence by participating in experimental surgery. What follows is a moving and tragic tale of a man who achieves everything he has ever wanted but is unable to cope with the burden of finding himself at the opposite end of the intelligence spectrum with the incumbent memories and understanding of his former life and self. He has to face up to how he had appeared to and was treated by other people, his rejection by his family and the problems brought about by his supressed sexuality and his desire to be with the woman he loves.
Admittedly there are scenes in this book that will make you weep but if you are prepared to embark on a journey with a deeply human and insightful man, you will be richly rewarded. Does this story stand the test of time? Yes it does absolutely, and it is wonderful that is getting a well-deserved revival. The narration of this audiobook is superb and I congratulate Adam Sims for so brilliantly breathing new life into Charly Gordon.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Ruddy good student
  • 05-01-2018

A truly sublime and subtle Sci Fi story!

What made the experience of listening to Flowers for Algernon the most enjoyable?

It was Adam Sims brilliant characterisation of main character Charlie Gordon. Charlie moves through a lot of emotional and psychological changes, throughout the course of the novel and Sims delivers a highly detailed, thoroughly believable and utterly convicted range of performances, depending on the latest development with Charlie.

What did you like best about this story?

'Flowers For Algernon' is perhaps one of the better pieces of Sci-Fi that I have read and there's not space ship or any aliens in sight, in this story. I have always enjoyed quite grounded Sci-Fi that could actually exist here and now and Keyes excels in this, providing an excellent and very subtle Icarus tale of how we might come to hate it, when science gives us everything that we've ever wanted. In this vain, you could compare it to the likes of 'Black Mirror'.

Which character – as performed by Adam Sims – was your favourite?

Charlie Gordon. I must say that his other characters were not as well performed and Sims did not even try to change his intonation when speaking the female parts.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Frustration. I mean this in no bad way! I am empathic of Charlie's frustrations at his inability to communicate himself effectively, at the start and sympathise, as his intelligence grows much faster than his emotional maturity, which causes rifts in his personal relationships. At the same time, I can ally myself with the supporting characters, who find Charlie frustrating as his mind expands and he becomes more and more full of his own self importance.

Any additional comments?

The writing style and narration at the beginning of this novel is amazing. When the story starts, Charlie has very low intelligence and makes a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, which Keyes deliberately includes, forcing his reader to inhabit the feeble mind of Charlie Gordon. In the audio version, Sims does a magnificent job of narrating these early sections, with audible sounds of exasperation and a lot of repetition of long, complicated words, as Charlie struggles to pronounce them correctly.

My main criticism of 'Flowers For Algernon' is it's completely unimpressive female characters. There are 4 in total and each fall into a horrible stereotype. I would demonise the book for this more, if it weren't for the fact that it was written in the 60's, where such archetypes were prominent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sigrin
  • 21-06-2018

Simply marvellous


Wow this was superb, I kept having to remind myself it was written in 1958.
It’s in the genre science fiction but that is a discredit I feel towards this powerful thought provoking work.

The story of a mouse Algernon who was experimented on to become a genius mouse. The doctors/scientist then used this knowledge to experiment on a man named Charlie who was born as he is quoted a moron and then the slow change to genius after the experimental surgery is done.

Charlie’s insight to his previous life is gradually questioned as the story moves along and there are some upsetting realisations for him. No spoilers but things do not continue on the genius level and soon things change again.

The narrator Adam Sims was outstanding in the way he subtly changed his voice from simpleton Charlie to genius Charlie.
I am not a great fan of American narrators however he made me feel for Charlie as though he was a personal friend so plenty of tears were shed and I felt bereft at the end.

Great for book clubs or just food for thought,

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • MR S PITTS
  • 18-04-2018

moving and awe inspiring.

I usually spend a lot of time deciphering what I am learning from a book, however I spent most of this simply in awe of how beautifully it was written and performed.

the tone of the narration flows perfectly with the book.

not a book I would have thought to read without having it recommended to me. however I found myself moved throughout and am now passing on that recommendation.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Linnett
  • 01-05-2018

Totally absorbing!

Fantastic listen. Some of the best voice acting i have come across. Would highly recommend as a first audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Liz I.
  • 01-05-2018

Beautiful!

I pretty much listen to this book in one go! I was hooked after the 1st minute. Definitely a must read and I will be talking to anyone I can about it. Heartwarmly sad, thought provoking and beautiful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nguyen Phuong Anh
  • 06-04-2018

Thoughtful book

I think this book was easy to follow and the questions it raises are things that I think deserves our thinking.

*cough* I heard of this books thanks to Pewds Literature Club *cough*

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jackie T
  • 14-06-2019

What a lively story

This book was recommended to me and I in turn would recommend it to others.
It is very different to any other book that I have read so far, but it is a lovely story and worth 5 stars

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  • Mark
  • 03-06-2019

Amazing

Could not stop listening to this book. The character's journey is utterly gripping and emotional. A true rollercoaster.

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  • D. Oxford
  • 19-05-2019

The Extended Cut

Immensely thought-provoking and as affecting as your emotional investment allows, although I’d say this version possesses less impact than the original draft. Relatively untouched by the passing years - and such a well-judged performance.