I went into this with low expectations, and I was still disappointed. Not only does the author misunderstand the meaning of some key concepts (e.g., heritability), she also presents lots of controversial research without appropriate discussion. Also, the book reads as a little "self-helpy". Furthermore, the reader announces every single syllable, causing her to mispronounce some of them. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
When I heard this book had been released, I immediately purchased it. I was a huge fan of the Sweet Valley series as a pre-teen, and having a chance to see how they'd grown up (now at almost exactly my own age) was an exciting prospect. The book delivered what I had hoped for: a return to my childhood "friends." As with meeting old friends in real life, this book allowed me to see how they had grown. The characters changed in ways I could never expect, and yet somehow stayed true to those people I had once known.
Let's face it. If you're looking for a great literary masterpiece, this will not be your cup of tea. It's an extension of the original teen literature, written for the now grown-up fans. There is sex, drama, and more drama. Some of it a bit far-fetched, yes (even a lot far-fetched). But isn't that what the original series always was?
I got what I expected. And for what it is, it's great.
Card has an amazing talent for creating new worlds - spaces that have their own histories, rules, and politics. The Ender's Game, Alvin Maker and Homecoming Saga's are excellent examples. Once again, Card has successfully created a story that draws the reader into a whole new place.
Of course, with any well-crafted story, the reader has to suspend disbelief long enough to let Card fill in the details to make it all work. Patience pays off - he does.
And for anyone who enjoyed the Card's Alvin Maker series, this is one that I'd highly recommend (it's reminiscent of that style in many ways).
Overall it's a great novel with great readers. I will eagerly be awaiting the next book.
To be honest, to get the most out of this book, the reader probably needs some knowledge of the American Civil War. It would also help to know a bit about early American philosophy and psychology. However, if the reader remains patient, Menand eventually fills in the missing details.
Overall, the Metaphysical Club is a very well written and complex history of a fascinating group of thinkers.
As a researcher on the topic of genius myself, I was very impressed with Shenk's take on the topic. He weaves together several promising lines of research to create a convincing narrative. Furthermore, he has a gift for explaining difficult concepts (e.g., heritability) and research (e.g., epigenetics). I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in genius, intelligence, creativity, and human development more generally. Brilliant!
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