What I Loved:
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. I liked the story that was being told and loved where I thought the book was going to go.
How I Felt:
Overall, I found this book to be a bit of a let-down. The story started strong, and I was really invested. It sort of stumbled and never found its footing again about 30-40% in.
A Companion is the mental awareness of a human that has been placed into a robotic casing. These casings range from low-end R2-D2-like robots all the way up to human-looking companions. People lease companions for friendship, to keep family members with them when they near death, and a variety of other reasons.
The number of characters was overwhelming. The beginning started with a companion, Lilac, and a young girl quarantined in a home. The companion is sharing her life’s story with the girl, and I was really interested in where the plot was headed. Then, we meet a young employee at a nursing home, then a young girl on the street, then an actor/companion, and the list just keeps going. It became a confusing list of characters that I couldn’t connect with and didn’t care about.
The writing was good. I liked where the story was going at the start. I was intrigued and flew through the beginning of the book. Each individual section of the story was actually interesting, but it felt like starting a new book at the beginning of each chapter, and I didn’t want that. I was looking for a full story that would fill out the first character’s plot.
The story places the reader in a California high-rise with a mother and daughter, and their companion. The companion tells the story of her death to the girl, and it’s interesting. She was murdered and in all these years has not been able to find the murderer through her research in her down-time. She escapes her high-rise family and shows up at a nursing home where her murderer lives. She shouldn’t have been able to do this, as companions are command-based, and yet Lilac seems to be able to control her own actions. Through a domino effect of events, Lilac’s actions create a shut-down of all companions. There are a few that survive and go underground to form a rebellion.
This book contains references to murder and quarantine due to a virus outbreak.
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend The Companions for readers that enjoy a variety of short stories in the science fiction genre.
Where to Find This Book:
The Companions by Katie M. Flynn is available at these sites.
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.
Just the Facts:
The Companions by Katie M. Flynn
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 272 pages
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Pub Date: March 3, 2020
I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.