the companions

2 stars

This was a confusing, lack-luster science fiction book that left me wondering “what the heck did I just read?”

The premise of the book is promising, and apropos of our current virus crisis. The state of California is under quarantine after a deadly virus is unleashed. Residents are locked in their high rise towers and can’t leave. As a result of the quarantine, a “companionship” program arises, which allows people to have their consciousness uploaded into a computer program before dying so they can stay in the custody of their families. They are given robotic bodies, which vary is complexity from simple models to manufactured bodies that can pass as humans. Less fortunate people are uploaded and rented out to strangers to be, in essence, their slaves. Lilac is a 16 year old girl that is rented out to strangers. When she realizes she can disregard her command program, she takes off, looking for the woman that killed her. Intriguing, right?

Sadly, the book doesn’t deliver. The book starts as if it’s in the middle of the story, so the reader is lost until later in the book when the author provides a few bits of details about the world. I know that some other authors use this tactic as well, but I don’t like it. It’s annoying to have to read pages and pages of a book just to try to figure out what is going on.

The world-building in this book is almost non-existent, as is the character development. There are multiple characters and storylines, with the single thread of Lilac to tie them together. I found myself not really caring about any of them. The book is supposed to be about issues of loss, love, revenge and loneliness. I was left wanting. To me, it was a wandering story that didn’t seem to have a point. So many random things happened that weren’t explained. It was like entering someone else’s stream of consciousness – you see what’s happening but have no idea what any of it means.

This book wasn’t for me, but that’s not to say others won’t enjoy it.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley & Gallery/Scout Press in exchange for an honest review.