BOOK: Tiny Instruments
AUTHOR: Mitchell Bogatz
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
MY RATING: ★ ★ (2/5)
Tiny Instruments is an 84,000-word literary science-fiction novel set in the near future. It’s about a scientist who is so well known and respected that when he dies, the world refuses to let him go. He is genetically copied, genetically enhanced, and is continually reproduced throughout multiple generations. The book follows the fifth such reproduction, who isn’t sure whether or not he is real. The “artificial” as he is called, struggles to find his own identity through various events that go on in the research facility he is born into.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I tried so hard to like this book, I really did. Everything about this book screamed that it was right up my alley. Artificial intelligence that wants to be real. Reading the description I got a real Bicentennial Man feel and I was really excited.
Don’t be fooled, this book is nothing like Bicentennial Man. And ultimately that’s probably a good thing. It’s unique in it’s own regard, but I just wasn’t picking up what Bogatz was laying down.
One of the biggest issues I felt with Tiny Instruments was that I really never felt like I cared much for Timothy, our main character, an Artificial bred and living in a research facility that is all that he knows. Perhaps this is actually a genius literary move by Bogatz where we never really have a connection with the main character because of the disconnect he has to humanity as an artificial, but if that’s the case, it’s a little over my head. My attachment to the characters is what keeps me reading, but in fact I had a hard time picking this book back up again after I’d put it down because I just simply did not care about Timothy’s adventure.
The other thing that irritated me a little bit was that it seemed to not be consistent in what tense the story was being told in. There were times the book would read like the events had already occurred and you were being told what had happened in the past, but then suddenly a phrase would stand out that suggested you were in the present tense, and I found that a bit confusing at times. Though it didn’t really negate from the story, it was a little distracting.
That being said, I still believe this piece was beautifully written, almost poetic, and I found myself pulling tons of quotes from this book that I really did enjoy, despite not necessarily being invested in the plot of the story itself. My interests did peak a bit for the latter half of the novel.
“’There are rules for artificials, but there are no rules for humans – not for things that matter. We just go around wishing and hoping, putting our love in the wrong places, forming ideas based on other people’s ideas and sticking with them regardless of what happens or what we learn.’”
I appreciated the theme of humanity being flawed. Timothy doesn’t care that humans aren’t perfect, he just wants to have the freedom to make his own choices, and not live within a gilded cage. Though his life may not be difficult, it is not his own and Timothy knows that he is different from other artificials. This starts to make him uncomfortable. It certainly gets you thinking.
“They sat huddled over Timothy, both of them just people, deeply flawed in many ways, trying to find the right way to show their love.”
When Timothy is staying in Alan’s apartment and leaves on his own into the city, I feel like an opportunity was missed in exploring his thoughts and feelings about the outside world. For someone who seems so oblivious, he certainly has no hard time fitting in. He never seemed to blunder, which seemed a little unrealistic given the circumstances.
The ending of this novel felt a little abrupt to me, though I suppose we should have known that it would be right from the start. I loved that Alan found new meaning and purpose in his life, thanks to Timothy. I hated that I never really understood what happened in the end. But I think that’s the point.
See, this book is not really about life or death, it’s about how you choose to spend the time you have, told from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have a lot of say in his. It’s about logic vs. emotion, how we make decisions and how those decisions affect the intricate details of our lives.
I wouldn’t pick up Tiny Instruments again, but I think I’d be interested in reading more of his work. I appreciate the voice telling the story.