Released earlier this week
Thanks to Gallery Books for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews
THE COMPANIONS – Katie M. Flynn (Released March 3rd, 2020)
Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go in this debut novel set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.
In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.
Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.
Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 2/5 stars
The premise is absolutely intriguing and I can see something like this happening in our future… and quite frankly, it terrifies me. Sadly though, this book just did NOT work for me.
The synopsis tells us about this deadly contagion that happens where now people are in quarantine… but the dead can come back in the form of “companions”. The book touches on socio-economic status, human rights and the thought of human souls/thoughts, etc. being buried in a machine to “live on forever”. But these all seem, weirdly, like a small portion of the book that quite honestly, didn’t really go in any direction.
With a vast array of characters, only a few of which stayed within the length of the novel, they’re all a bit underdeveloped and there’s no true mainstay within the plot itself based on the synopsis given. Almost seeming like little short stories within the novel of different characters, slightly veering back to a couple main ones to try and make it cohesive.. and it just doesn’t quite flow.
My Thoughts: 2/5 stars
I feel like the synopsis made me expect a very different book than I got. The premise intrigued me and I was very curious to see where the author would take this. A highly contagious virus has left California under quarantine, but those that die can come back in the form of the Companionship program. Where you can upload your consciousness to live on in a robot for your family, or for those less fortunate, they can be rented as Companions.
I loved the concept of this book. I feel like it got lost along the way and wasn’t the clear focus of the novel. There were a lot of characters throughout the book and we don’t really get to know any of them too well. We get a lot of story lines as well and it all felt a little muddled together for me.
Overall, I was so hoping for more from the original premise. I know a lot of other reviewers absolutely loved this – so if the synopsis does pique your interest then I would say give this one a try!