By: Robert Charles Wilson
Published Year: 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): In our rapidly changing world of social media, everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies: genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral. To join one of the twenty-two Affinities is to change one's life. It's like family, and more than family. Your fellow members aren't just like you, and they aren't just people who are likely to like you. They're also the people with whom you can best cooperate in all areas of life, creative, interpersonal, even financial.
At loose ends both professional and personal, young Adam Fisk takes the suite of tests to see whether he qualifies for any of the Affinities and finds that he's a match for one of the largest, the one called Tau. It's utopian--at first. His problems resolve themselves as he becomes part of a global network of people dedicated to helping one another, to helping him, but as the differing Affinities put their new powers to the test, they begin to rapidly chip away at the power of governments, of global corporations, and of all the institutions of the old world; then, with dreadful inevitability, the different Affinities begin to go to war with one another.
I was stuck in a book rut and decided to go inside the library and walk around to pick out books. Oddly enough, this is not something that I have done for a long time. Lately I have been putting books on hold and the picking them up at my library’s drive through. While looking around in the New Releases/Hot Releases section the cover of The Affinitiess caught my eye. When I read the summary it caught my attention. I thought that I was burned out on dystopian novels but something about this sparked my interest during a time where no other book was.
What I thought
This book was really interesting and definitely helped to get me out of my rut. It wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be but it was really interesting and enjoyable.
The Affinities occurs in Canada and The US during what seems like the present. A scientist has discovered a way to analyze human minds and DNA to determine what Affinity (if any) they fit into. The purpose of an Affinity is to put you together with people like you who you immediately understand and trust and therefore cooperate with easily. There are 22 Affinities and not everybody who is tested qualifies for an Affinity. There are 5 that are the biggest or most common Affinities. Adam, the main character, qualifies for one of the Big 5, Tau.
The Affinities (while reminiscent of the factions from Divergent) are not something that everyone has to (or even can be) a part of. The purpose of the Affinities is to create a more cooperative society. It’s a little bit difficult to explain but it’s different from other dystopian societies in that the Affinities don’t teach or even encourage everyone to act a certain way, but are built to put you together with people who are already similar to you. However, there is always conflict when groups like these are created. The different Affinities don’t agree with one another and there is animosity from those who did not qualify.
The negative side to Affinities is that they feel as though they are your one and only family. Anyone who is not a part of your Affinity does not matter. They actually refer to people who you are connected to outside of your Affinity a “tether.” It’s an interesting concept and does create a lot of struggle for Adam.
One downside to this book is that there isn’t as much world building or character building as I would have liked. It is split into three sections that easily could have been made into three separate books. The first section occurs when Adam first decides to be tested for an Affinity. The second section occurs 7 years later, and the third a few years after that. It is frustrating because one section ends and then the next one immediately picks up years later. You have no idea what has happened in between and it makes it harder to connect to the other characters. I would have loved more detail and interactions with the characters. I feel like this style made it more difficult to follow along as well as more difficult to get behind the causes the characters were behind.
Finally, the ending really frustrated me. It was the type of ending that makes you feel as though you wasted your time reading the story. If the ending was different I would have liked this book so much more. I really liked the concept and the ideas and in general what happened. I think that if this story was more detailed and made into something a lot longer it could’ve gone from being a good story to being an amazing story.
By: Robert Charles Wilson