In a future heavily shaped by numerous deadly flu pandemics (wow did I choose the wrong time to read it!), a company called Metis has begun uploading the consciousnesses of the dead, and then downloading them into robots called ‘Companions’. These companions are most typically used as caregivers to the elderly or the young, but they can also be leased from Metis by the family of the dead.
It’s a theme that’s been covered before. In this iteration, we follow the story of several characters whose paths all intersect in interesting ways. Primarily this is the story of Lilac, who suffered a traumatic death and went on to become a caregiver. Lilac has never really obeyed her security protocols. Something makes her different. She was one of the earliest companions, and it’s not long before she’s breaking free and trying to find people she once knew as a human.
In the blurb, The Companions is compared to Station Eleven. And it isn’t completely wrong, though I think ultimately, Station Eleven was much better done. This is a largely character driven novel, with a very thin semblance of a plot holding it together. I don’t mean this in a bad way- I actually did enjoy the meandering pace and drifting nature of the plot.
The writing was okay. Not particularly memorable but that means it isn’t particularly bad either. I ultimately deducted a star for the ending, which felt rushed and strung together in a bunch of random scenes to tie it all up and put a bow on it. I really didn’t understand what the author was getting at with what Nat was doing, or even the relationship between Nat and Gabe in the end, and really had no clue what Rachel’s real purpose was with her chapter.
I read an advanced copy, downloaded electronically several months before release, so I’d have to check to see if it was re-written at all to make it more cohesive. If it was- this could easily have been a 4 star read.