Monday, June 18, 2018

The After Wife

The After Wife, Cass Hunter 

Imagine you are a brilliant scientist, designing the new robots of the future: incredibly lifelike, humanoids that learn and build on information using data gathered. Hopefully they could be a new type of carer, able to work almost around the clock, tracking the biometrics of their clients and then adapting their responses and speaking with them in conversation. You are also very happily married to the love of your life and have a teenage daughter. And you know you are going to die. What do you do? Dr Rachel Comfort decided to use her technology and coding skills to create a back-up Rachel (iRachel).

Aidan and Chloe find themselves in a sea of grief, reeling after the sudden death of their wife & mother. Luke, Rachel’s grumpy, uncommunicative co-worker, reveals that he & Rachel’s work has come to a complete standstill as her death set off a chain of code in iRachel. She insists she must now live with Aidan and Chloe and assist them, or all her data containing years of work will be deleted.

Both are initially horrified at the thought of having iRachel in the house, who has been designed to look and speak exactly like Rachel. She has been loaded with their memories, photos and instructions for how to look after them. But she has been programmed very, very well. At various points, she retells stories they have forgotten, she gives letters to them pre-written from Rachel, and as time passes, a functional relationship develops between them all.

But time is ticking by, Chloe is aching to tell her friends about the top-secret robot in her home and Aidan’s mother is ill and needs to live with them. It’s getting harder and harder to keep iRachel a secret.

I really enjoyed this book. Hunter has written a compelling tale, which makes you consider the implications of creating such intelligent AI, and what the essence of a person actually is. I thought I could predict where the book was likely to head, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover I couldn’t and I enjoyed what Hunter did with the story. The cover tempted me with the suggestion that if you are a fan of The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler’s Wife, you are likely to enjoy this, and I agree. In addition, for those who have enjoyed these types of idea in movies such as Simone and Her, there are overlapping ideas here too. An enjoyable read that makes you think a bit.

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