Emily Eternal by MG Wheaton

Posted On 22 April 2019

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HB_RoyalEmily Eternal is a really unusual book that even now I’m still mulling over.  For a book where the primary character is basically a computer programme this story has a lot of heart and is very thought provoking.  I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up and initially I thought I was going to struggle but then the story went in an unexpected direction and I became hooked on the drama that unfolded.

Emily is AC.  No, not air conditioning!  Artificial Consciousness as opposed to AI (Artificial Intelligence) which I guess is something that we’re more familiar with.  Emily’s primary aim is to help people, she’s a therapist if you will and her interactions over the years have helped her to develop the side of her that wants to help us in such a way that she really empathises over our current plight.  Put bluntly the sun is dying.  It’s not a new idea, it’s something that we’ve heard of and at the same time are powerless to do anything about and with the end of the sun will come the end of earth and the extinction of the human race.  So, you might be now thinking this is going to be one of those novels that sees the world spiralling into a terrible place, a dog eat dog place where morals and basic civility have flown out the window.  This book isn’t really about that, it takes a much more focused look in fact.  Emily is based on a university campus and her fame has reached the ears of others, those in power.  It is felt that Emily’s programming is so advanced that she could take steps to help prevent the total extinction of humans – I won’t tell you more but basically this is the basis of Emily Eternal.  How to survive an extinction level event – or at least, how to continue after it has occurred.

Like I said, Emily is a computer programme, in order to help her grow she is simulated and takes human form, she is visible and audible to people who wear or carry a certain chip with them.  She has been programmed so that she functions as a human, with her own personal rooms on campus.  She dresses, showers, eats, etc.  Well, she actually does none of those things strictly speaking, but she is programmed to go through the motions and behaving as a human and constantly interacting has given her a heightened sense of how people think and feel.

As far as characters go I thought Emily was a very easy to like pov.  What I particularly liked about her were her logical thought processes and her reasoning abilities.  It’s all very clever and I really did enjoy that aspect.  As the story progresses things change slightly.  We have a twist in the plot when it becomes apparent that things are not happening in the way promised and Emily effectively ends up on the run.  Which takes some thinking about when you consider that she’s intrinsically linked to a server and also, in order to be seen or heard requires a person to be ‘chipped’.  I’m not really going to mention more about the plot because there are a number of ways in which this story could be spoiled.

On top of this whole survival idea – and the rather creatively over the top ways that Emily comes up with to solve the extinction of mankind, there is also a love story.  Again I won’t say more about that other than to say that Emily does end up travelling with a couple of other characters who thankfully inject something a little more human into the story – it could otherwise have become a little AC focused.

What I really enjoyed about this story is the creativity, some of it does go a little, mmm, crazy/whacky at certain times, but overall this is really well thought out.  It’s well written and actually quite fascinating.  I liked Emily.  I liked the dilemma that she found herself in and her resourcefulness.  I liked that she cared and it raised all those issues of can a programme develop enough to ‘feel’.  There’s also a very good demonstration, and warning of sorts in here, about just what could go wrong.  A cautionary tale in some respects.

In terms of what I struggled with a little.  The beginning is a little slow and I almost came to a point of giving in with this, I’m glad that didn’t happen though.  I did find it difficult to get my head around Emily and the whole love affair.  I understand that the author is demonstrating Emily’s feelings for humans, her connection and also her advancement in that she can actually feel something – not least of all a crush, thereby showing how ‘human’ she has herself become – but, ultimately, I found it difficult to envision.  I also thought the ending was perhaps a little too much – although, again, I loved the idea of what was being explored here.

Overall, I thought this was a thought provoking book indeed.  It actually had quite a compelling story in terms of the survival aspects, which I really hadn’t expected, and it became quite a drama as the stakes were raised at the end. A story that begs the question ‘what next?’

I would definitely read more by this author.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 21st April 2019

This has been a lovely week.  The weather has been glorious and the sun has beamed down on us all over the Easter holiday.  I’ve managed to read three books and start my fourth and I’ve caught up with a number of reviews.  Here’s my week in review:

My books:

  1. Emily Eternal by M G Wheaton
  2. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  3. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

 

Next week’s reads:

  1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  2. Ruthless Magic  by Megan Crewe
  3. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

 

Upcoming reviews:

  1. Emily Eternal by M G Wheaton
  2. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  3. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.