Ian McEwan | April 2019 | 320 pp
Im not sure what I just listened too. 🤦🏾♀️ I swear I need to give up late night library surfing like people give up eating after dark or watching horror movies at night, alone. I find myself reading weird shit..and sort of liking it. Its like bingeing weird Netflix documentaries..you end up thinking ‘what did i just learn and can i somehow, unlearn it’? 🤦🏾♀️
Alas, Im a sucker for stories featuring machines as humans or machines interacting with humans which this story is a bit of both. This is a bit of a weird tale that revolves around Charlie, Miranda and a robot, Adam.
Charlie purchases Adam, a top of the line robot, with money from an inheritance. His plan becomes to offer him up to Miranda, a tenant in his building that he’s recently realized he cares for, as a shared project. Maybe, if they program Adam’s personality together, he’ll be their child? Turns out, that was fairly presumptuous, assuming that Adam would not develop his own personality and morals. Which, in fact he does.
The thriller twist comes via Miranda. Adam warns Charlie he shouldn’t trust her, which turns Charlie against Adam, early on. Problem is, Charlie soon discovers, Adam’s right. They all want to resolve the issue but, Adam, (that damn independence!) takes matters into his own hands…to everyone’s detriment.
Pros: An overused concept brought to life by the thriller twist. Its a dystopian world where self actualizing robots are possible, in apartments with old bulky desktops. Lots of references to a reimagined British history that i didn’t catch but, i’m sure would lend to the story. Im American, they barely allow us to learn our history, you expect me to know yours? 🤦🏾♀️ I digress.
Cons: By the end if this Im not sure I liked any of the characters. I think I liked Adam best but, i don’t agree with how he managed Miranda’s situation. Charlie is at once naive and sincere but frankly comes off as a lazy, selfish loser with his ‘day trading’.
There’s a lot to unpack in this story and my review will never do it justice. The dynamic of Charlie and Miranda interacting with Adam. Adam finding out a truth and doing what is right without prejudice or emotion, like a computer would – can we hold it against him? The realization that robots all over may be going through this same ethical crisis and start killing themselves. There is the odd introduction of the foster child Mark and the couples quest to adopt the boy. Instead of believing that Adam is simply functioning as an unfeeling computer would, maybe he is jealous of the boy?
Overall, I enjoyed the story and read it in a 24 hour period. If you like ‘bots or remote historical facts about ‘bots, this is probably a good book for you. There is a non traditional love story here along with a sci-fi thriller twist. Good weekend read! Book 21/2021