Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review of Machine by Jennifer Pelland

Here is my review as posted on Goodreads of Machine by Jennifer Pelland:

5/5 stars
bookshelves: sci-fi, relationships, robot-love, androids, psychological, favorites

Read from March 02 to 09, 2016

This is a highly recommended psychological ride with plenty of intelligent commentary on the world. It is an intense character study of a protagonist who must struggle through the raging political battleground of the body after choosing to put her mind inside an android body until a cure is found for her original body's rare disease, rather than waiting it out in stasis inside.

The author pays careful attention to all the threads of the narrative from start to end, and provides emotional weight, consequence, and both a gripping realism and uncomfortable horror. All the promises set up are fulfilled by the end, in one way or another.

While keeping smart attention to the progress of the character and her narrative, the sci-element is used to speak to a lot of serious issues. The story doesn't shy away from the heavy shit that is involved with people and politics trying to control what they're uncomfortable with, as we get suicide, self-mutilation, degradation, loss of self, depression, both sides of the coin trying to use victims for their own purposes and beliefs, etc.

One aspect I thought especially well-done was the protagonist's confusion about her own identity during the time she spends in her android body. The situations she found herself in, and the choices she had to manage, were terrifying, but built up to at a careful pace that leant the story power.

One of the elements I found most disturbing, and realistic, was how much pressure the protagonist got from political bullies (realistically, from both the religious and the not-religious) that her choices meant she did not have a right to exist, that she didn't have a soul or was somehow ruining "normal" life for them.

Pelland keeps the narrative very personal and conflicting for the character throughout, which makes it especially heart-rending as the character struggles to handle stark betrayals and misunderstandings from her wife, her boss, her colleagues, from all sorts. It spoke volumes to the necessity of providing community and understanding to those in transitional and/or troubled periods in their life. It also spoke to how much people think they should be able to control others.

I can hardly wait to read Pelland's short story anthology.

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