Miracle Man (Books: My Favorite Movies!)

Miracle ManMiracle Man by William Leibowitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The beginning of Miracle Man feels very compelling. As we learn about the mysterious origins of the main character and child prodigy Robert Austin, there seems to be no limit to his phenomenal intelligence. Shadowy bureaucracies begin to try to shape his destiny, and it seems clear that his supreme intellect has downsides that plague Bobby with terrible nightmares and unsettling trances. These sections hook the reader, and ask lots of big questions about how our society and the world would react to a genius of its kind. More compellingly, it wonders how many geniuses we may have missed out on because they were not given opportunities or were written off as having mental health issues. Bobby’s loss of many supportive figures in his life is also poignant, and creates good obstacles that shape Bobby’s character. The inner conflicts within Bobby as he struggles with his psychological problems, the burdens and responsibility of his intellect, and the illusive balance he seeks in his life, also raise many interesting questions.

Overall, this book is clearly worth a read as it does create a sort of cerebral superhero in Bobby, complete with a lot of intriguing socio-economic ideas as good science fiction/fantasy often does. It also has a refreshing sense of cautious optimism in believing that someone with the intelligence of Bobby could change the world in the way he goes about doing. He even triumphs over a lot of bureaucracies, institutions, and antagonists that would prefer he not succeed. It’s refreshing in many ways because it would be much easier to paint a purely tragic and pessimistic arc for these sorts of ideas, as much fiction usually does.

Still, there were a lot of things that hold this story back. As Bobby progresses towards adulthood the narrative loses some of its steam. Bobby remains a compelling character, a scientist who grapples with his own personal demons as he produces miracle cure after miracle cure, but many of the key characters could use more development. Some of the more interesting scenes are actually when these characters get to interact outside of Bobby’s orbit, but there are precious few of them and the narrative could have benefited from more so that the reader gets a sense of who these people really are.

The story also gets tangled in a lot of red herrings and subplots that don’t pay off too much. The author has important points to make and questions to ask about forces that would be opposed to the radical progress Bobby brings through his scientific breakthroughs, but ultimately does not do much to represent these forces. A contingent of anti-science fanatics targets Bobby, as well as an over-the-top, villanous pharmaceutical executive. These antagonists generate tension and conflict, but do not really amount to much plot-wise until the very end. Bobby’s struggles with himself and living his life prove much more interesting than these subplots, which makes them feel all the more incomplete. There are also a fair number of copy-editing errors that made their way into the final draft that sometimes took me out of the book. All in all, though, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Miracle Man
By William R Leibowitz