“‘How did this happen to me?’ Then I realize something, a truth lodged inside me, not the telling. ‘My parents would never have agreed to this.’
‘You were an organ donor right? I remember reading that the first to upload were organ donors. That would make sense. You’re nearly first-gen. Maybe your parents didn’t even know.'” (Flynn 16).
I’m going to be really honest right now and say the only reason I read this book so quickly over all the other books I got from the library before it temporarily closed was that the summary said it was about a quarantine and I thought “hey that’s fitting and oddly appropriate.” I don’t even remember putting this book on hold but it made me wonder about when I did put it on hold because it was definitely before COVID-19 became something I had to worry about where I live. I wonder what I thought about the book before all of this, was it the quarantine that intrigued me then or the androids that made me put this book on hold? Whatever it was, this book was disappointing as a quarantine read and about androids.
The Companions takes place in California which has been under quarantine for years due to a deadly virus. Since people cannot go outside and live their lives in relative solitude, those who are wealthy enough purchase Companions, androids uploaded with the mind and memories of dead people while those less-wealthy rent out the Companions for their use. Sixteen-year-old Lilac was one of the first Companions, and when she realizes she can overrule commands she leaves her leased family and goes in search of the person who killed her, sparking a rebellion among the Companions and changing the already changed world.
The summary of this book sounds amazing and the book honestly doesn’t live up. While the book isn’t poorly written and does manage to be interesting at times, the interesting parts are rarely followed through with and certain characters and story lines are just abandoned. The chapters are long and there are too many characters, there are eight main perspectives in the book and with so many characters in a fairly short read readers don’t get the chance to relate or like any of them. The book also follows a timeline of I believe two decades, combine that with the many perspectives we really don’t get a chance to like or care about anyone because each transition of years only follows about two characters. It’s just too much information and not enough time to understand or care about it. I can’t even give a proper review of my thought because so much will happen in one chapter and never be brought up again it’s hard to figure out what The Companions is actually about.
Flynn is a good writer and I thought the idea of The Companions was good, I also wonder what she thinks of her book being released right around the pandemic and quarantine, though truthfully that part of the book is more of a footnote than a plot point. When starting the book I was excited to see where Flynn would take her characters, what themes she would explore, learning what she was trying to tell her readers. While The Companions touches the surface of the theme of survival in crisis, but Station Eleven does it much better.
Publication: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Pages: 272 pages
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia,
My Rating: ⛤⛤
“In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.
Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.
Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.”