‘It’s dark, way too dark for the middle of the day. And that’s not where the sky’s supposed to be.’
Emily is an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.
So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.
As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.
What I thought
I’ve never read a book before where the main character is an AC (artificial consciousness not AI – artificial intelligence) and I’m not sure if I there are other books out there that would be able to deal with it as well. Emily was designed to be a therapist, which is an obvious job for an AC that I’ve never seen before, she’s the ultimate one as she can read all the books and research in seconds, is designed to learn and grow, and one of her core tenants is confidentiality so it would be impossible to tell anyone what’s shes learnt in a ‘session’. Across the story you can see her growth as a person and how she becomes more and more human and not just a routine computer system. When people first meet her it takes a while for them to understand her as her own person and that clearly impacts her.
There’s also no denying that some of the decisions she makes and the leaps she takes from one thing to another are alien and I was suddenly reminded that she wasn’t human and therefore doesn’t have some of the tendencies, biases we do. And she’s only 5 years old, which makes her very naive at times, she might have been designed to hear our problems and help humanity with them but she’s still innocent. She thinks the best of humans and when they fail her it hurts.
Also it’s the end of the world; the book starts with admitting that scientists have got it wrong and instead of years until the sun explodes there’s only weeks… oops. Emily is humanity’s last hope as a super computer but she’s still so young and there’s still so much for her to learn.
As far as apocalyptical stories go this one felt really fresh and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I think the main reason is because of Emily’s unique POV, but I love that this wasn’t about saving the world from politics this was about using science to try and find a solution to the sun exploding. And modern day science at that (mostly).
It’s a great sci-fi story that explains the science without making it feel patronising or dry.
The only real draw back for me was the romance and the end felt really rushed.
Why I read it
The world is ending and the MC is a 5 year old artificial consiousness, why wouldn’t I read it? I got an ARC at YALC from Hodderscape and read it pretty soon after I got back.
This is one of the few reviews that I’ve really struggled to write and I’ve really noticed the 10 months since reading it. However that’s against me and not the book, although it clearly didn’t make as big an impact as some other books, but while flicking through it again and reading a handful of comments on GR’s I’ve decided that I should reread it.
So there are some bonuses to having a bad memory… they’ll be some de ja vu but I’m looking forward to it.
Am I glad I read it? Yup
Did I enjoy it? Yup
Would I read it again? Planning on it
Would I recommend? Yup, although like I said I remember the ending being rushed so be aware of that.
PopSugar: Should be turned into a film, published in 2019, two word title, climate fiction (kinda).
Read Harder: You COULD put this as part of ‘inanimate object POV’ as Emily doesn’t fit the traditional conditions of a living being. But this book is all about humanity and how being human is more than having human DNA.
Like I said this is the first book I’ve found the distance away a real problem and I have to admit I have used GoodReads reviews to remind me of exactly what happened in the course of the book. But that’s what rereads are for.
As always let me know what you think and if you’re interested in reading this one or if you have.
P.S The next review is for ‘Red Rising’ which is another one of my 2018 YALC hoard.