I have mixed feelings on this book. It is a psychological thriller – which is my favourite genre, but also verges on sci-fi. It certainly had me turning the pages, and towards the end, I was rushing through sections to find out what was going to happen next. It has been written in short, snappy chapters that work well and keeps the tension high.
However, the storyline is based around robots and artificial intelligence. I found this a little too far-fetched and quite difficult to imagine!
Abbie has died/gone missing under suspicious circumstances. Five years later, her double – a cobot, has been developed as a companion for her husband. He runs a technology firm that develop AI (artificial intelligence). The technology for his wife Abbie is so advanced, she can feel emotions (without crying) and start to create memories that have not been programmed.
I found myself thinking how I would hate it if someone made a robot of me. A robot cannot replace the heart and soul of its human counterpart; it feels a little disrespectful and disloyal. I fully understood, therefore, why Abbie’s family wanted to sue the husband for stealing Abbie’s identity.
Something I loved, however, was the way the robot became symbolic of Abbie’s child – who has autism. This storyline was dealt with tactfully and with great accuracy. The cobot was able to understand her son’s logic, and connect with him in a way that many humans failed. I found myself cheering her on, to get the right support for her child, and loved the whole concept that humans should adapt the world to accept his autism, rather than trying to ‘fix’ him and make him fit in. It gave me great insight into the chaos that is the world of someone with autism.
The relationship with Abbie’s husband is complex, and he appears to care for her, loving her almost as much as his wife. But as the story unfolds, we learn that he is ‘using’ her, and he becomes the antagonist. It is clear he is misogynistic, and has very warped ideas about women.
The book forces us to question humanity and the consequences should we create a robot with empathy, and accountability. Why would we want to create a robot that verges on the brink of being human if we don’t treat it with the same respect as a human?
This novel covers a difficult subject which has been intelligently written and is darkly imaginative. I became submerged in the protagonist’s journey, which was expertly written in the 2nd person POV. This worked very well and made for a shocking ending.
The final scene was thrilling, and I was delighted that it took me completely by surprise. It was a very satisfactory ending (in my opinion), and I am certain there is a going to be a very interesting discussion on this book in my book club tomorrow.
I only marked this book down by one star since I like fiction that is based on something I can relate to in real life. The robot theme seemed a little far-fetched, or perhaps, I’m just reluctant to think of a future where we can create robots that are indistinguishable from humans!