Title: A Calculated Life
Author: Anne Charnock
I loved reading the interactions between Jayna and human characters and enjoyed the internal conflict these interactions created within "her". My favourite chapter was the one in which Jayna visits with her boss's family and interacts with his wife and the kids. I found myself picturing the scene and smiling, as if I was 'The Constructor' watching my greatest accomplishment blend in so effortlessly with humans. This chapter had the perfect blend of dialogue and actions, without so much unnecessary explanation.
With that said, I wasn't a big fan of the novel's pacing. I found it to be quite draining to read in parts and, as a result, had to read it in small chunks (30 mins max). The novel took me over 3 weeks to finish and there were numerous times when I almost gave up. ACL is definitely not a sci-fi page turner and if you're looking for a novel that will leave you on the edge of your seat, this is certainly not it. I also found the book ended rather abruptly. In the final few chapters I was finally starting to really get into it and I found myself really wanting to know if Jayna's plan would succeed or fail. Then, without much warning, the book unexpectedly finishes with an absolute fizzer ending, leaving me feeling like I had just wasted my time.
However, with that said, I do think Charnock achieved her goal - which was to write a novel that explored the relationship between "bionics" and "organics" (humans), i.e. the struggle that would exist if both had to co-exist in society. In doing so, she made me (the reader and a human) actually care about the fate of Jayna's character (a bionic). Charnock succeeds here because, as a reader, there were moments when I actually forgot Jayna was a bionic and I found myself caring about her as if she was a human character. As a writer, I take my hat off to Charnock for pulling this off.
Who should read this book?
Anyone who loves real sci-fi movies like Blade Runner and Ex Machina.
- Chris Gander