Thursday, 27 July 2017
AARU by David Meredith
This review is born of a rare occurrence. I agreed to review without having the slightest inkling about what the book would be about! I am a risk taker in my old age it seems!
This presented itself as a story about the longevity of self, of the mind and personality and the falability of the physical body and it seemed to be a subject I could get my teeth into.
I immediately fell into the lives of Rose the terminally sick leaukemia sufferer and the younger sister she leaves grieving for her, when after a valiant battle the disease robs her of life. The boffins at a clandestine neuroscience lab intervene and have warded off true death by mapping and downloading her consciousness and memories into a mainframe that is designed to allow the cognitive and imaginative parts of a person's life to persist when the flesh has failed.
A utopia is forecast, a place where limitations are only due to a lack of imagination or will. Rose arrives and greeted by a kind of guide who teaches her how to utilise her new unbounded potential and meanwhile her grieving family are offered wealth and comfort in return for acting as advocate for the project to obtain further funding and for that personal advocacy they get to see Rose on a screen from across the divide between physical and metaphysical existence.
The younger sister becomes the beautiful and innocent face of the company, is she being exploited, does the money and interaction with celebrity enough to justify giving her sister up for the world to goggle at, to debate the morality
David Meredith treads a fine balance this could have been a book about the cerebral and moral arguments of human intelligence and personality versus the idea of artificial intelligence being a living entity and I think I would have been content with that. He touches on some of those issues and the first half of the book really did make me ponder, however the second portion of the book veered of into thriller territory.
A shadowy and sickly delusional character arrives on the scene and the story becomes a cat and mouse chase when sisters on both sides of the divide are in equal peril culminating in a frightening reckoning.
There is some light romance and the creativity of the experience AARU universe is a real draw. It is a really interesting premise and there are a lot of great ideas here.
Some minor issues though, sadly the book was let down by some pretty glaring spelling errors so my hope is that future instalments will be given slightly more time on the editing and proof reading process as at times the errors took me out of the narrative and I beg Mr Meredith to not give in to the temptation to present a foreign accent phonetically, his Nordic character became strangely Jamaican, whilst other nationalities accents are left to the reader's imagination! It is an oddity.
I would happily read more and enjoyment overode my subjective quibbles.