Everything About You by Heather Child
|Everything About You by Heather Child|
|Reviewer: Sophie Diamond|
|Summary: A fast paced, insightful and exciting read about a scary and not unrealistic vision of a society controlled by tech.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
In the future, your social feed is your entire existence. A.I. is here and it is all around you. It fills your fridge, it keeps up to date with your friends and fulfils your wishes. It is also stealing your jobs and, possibly, loosening your grip on reality. Freya is unexpectedly given a beta testing version of the latest smart specs, glasses which give her all the information she'll ever need, right in front of her eyes by barely thinking about it, complete with a personality to guide her. The problem is that the personality on the glasses is that of her missing and presumed dead sister. Freya is thrown and unsettled by this. Her mum tells her to stop using them or at the very least to reset them to a different personality. But Freya just can't do this. Hearing her sister's voice again is like she's right there, and although she knows this is just Ruby's data, part of Freya can't believe that it can be this accurate, it can't be this Ruby. Is it just possible that something more is feeding this personality than Ruby's data?
This book is brilliant. It's one I had to bear with a bit at the beginning, but once I got into this, I couldn't put it down. Without giving too much away, the story turns out to be more than you originally think it will be and that is absolutely brilliant. It's hard to say whether Freya or Ruby is the most prominent character as they almost intertwine. Two very interesting personalities with what feels like a full and vivid history. Freya starts out a bit insipid but she slowly develops throughout the story. This is all done with a lot of skill because the changes feels very gradual. Freya's feelings towards Ruby and in turn her smart specs are the driving force of the story. The emotions are portrayed so acutely that even you as the reader start to have trouble differentiating between the girl and the glasses.
This world isn't some distant future, it's quite an immediate one and completely grounded in our existing reality. I haven't read a futuristic book like this that it so brilliantly anchored. The future projections are incredible. In these smart devices, you can choose personalities of celebrities if they share their data which, when you think about it, is the next logical step forward from reality TV. And the world is controlled by conglomerate Smarti, the major supplier of tech, not too different from Google or Facebook. (Especially Facebook given the recent press coverage about what our data is doing).
Data is the overwriting theme in this book, almost to the point where it is a character itself. It is not portrayed as good or evil, but it is almost all-powerful. And where there is great power, like with any regime there are also factions who support or oppose it, those who immerse themselves in tech and those that all but reject it. I loved the inclusion of the Olympic stadium in Stratford which had been turned into a medieval village in an effort to escape tech. And it was a fantastic contrast that when you check your tech at the door, it opens you up to more real and human vulnerabilities.
This book is smart without being condescending and insightful without being at all preachy. It is a really stylish, contemporary thriller. In Child's world, what originally seems like a glossy, spectacular future is actually extremely dangerous in more ways than are just possible in reality. This book is both a utopia/dystopia and a thriller, and the two genres sit beautifully side by side. In fact, they depend on each other to make this book so brilliant.
This is a really, really good book. It's rare that futuristic books are done with such skill and it will really make you think.
Recommending further reading is actually quite difficult, as I think this is unlike anything I've read. But if you like the idea of intertwining personalities and stories, I would try the amazing The Girl Before by J P Delaney.
You can read more book reviews or buy Everything About You by Heather Child at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Everything About You by Heather Child at Amazon.com.
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