Ahoy there mateys! It is with a sad heart that I have to make the first read of the year walk the plank. I really didn’t want to start out 2020 in this way but alas. I was very much looking forward to this read as I enjoyed the previous novel I read by the author and the crew has been saying good things about this one. When me library hold came in just in time for the new year, I thought it was a sign of good things to come. Blast!
The problems started from the very beginning. There be two timelines in this novel and the transitions between them were jarring and confusing. The technology in this book deals with “the flash” where ye can put yer consciousness into another person’s body. Cool if creepy. In the past timeline, ye follow the scientist who created the technology, Gabby. In the future timeline, the flash has transformed society. Ye follow Annami who is using the dark sides of the technology for revenge. The illegal uses of the flash were the most interesting.
In addition to the awkward time shifts, I ended up hating Gabby. I was sympathetic to her situation at first. She is running out of money, is desperate for her project to work, and the loan sharks are coming to get her. I get that she wants to maintain control of her experiment but she shouldn’t have signed for that loan. Once the action ramps up, Gabby makes one bad decision after another and continually puts her family in danger. Her pride is annoying and misplaced. She wants to change the world in any way she can (doesn’t matter) and she also wants EVERYONE to know her name. Aye, she be smart but she has no common sense.
While the concepts of the flash were interesting, I found meself asking too many questions about inconsistencies and ramifications of the technology. I understood that it had changed the world but the plot seemed to have holes and too many coincidences for me. The tech never felt real but seemed more like something out of a bad sci-fi channel made for tv movie. The more I discussed the technologies possibilities with the First Mate, the more problems I found and the grumpier I got.
And I hated the twist through the entire ridiculous ending. The book is split into multiple parts and I liked two and three the best. I get the book’s appeal but it didn’t work for me. To the sharks it goes. Arrrr!
Goodreads had this to say about the novel:
Charles Soule brings his signature knowledge—and wariness–of technology to his sophomore novel set in a realistic future about a brilliant female scientist who creates a technology that allows for the transfer of human consciousness between bodies, and the transformations this process wreaks upon the world.
Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…
Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose – sex, drugs, crime… or worse.
Anyone masterfully interweaves the present-day story of the discovery and development of the flash with the gritty tale of one woman’s crusade to put an end to the darkness it has brought to the world twenty-five years after its creation. Like Blade Runner crossed with Get Out, Charles Soule’s thought-provoking work of speculative fiction takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide
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