By: P.Z. Reizin
Published Year: 2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid.
"You, Tom and Jen, don't know one another-not yet-but I think you should."
Jen, an ex-journalist who now works at a London software development company, spends all day talking to "Aiden," an ultra- sophisticated piece of AI wizardry, helping him sound and act more human. But Aiden soon discovers he's no longer acting and-despite being a computer program-begins to feel something like affection surging through his circuits. He calculates that Jen needs a worthy human partner (in complete contrast to her no goodnik ex boyfriend) and slips illicitly onto the Internet to locate a suitable candidate.
Tom is a divorced, former London ad-man who has moved to Connecticut to escape the grind and pursue his dream of being a writer. He loves his new life, but has yet to find a woman he truly connects with. That all changes when a bizarre introduction from the mysterious "Mutual Friend" pops up in both his and Jen's inboxes.
Even though they live on separate continents, and despite the entrance of another, this time wholly hostile, AI who wants to tear them apart forever - love will surely find a way.
What I Thought
Honestly, I was very apprehensive when this book was chosen for book club. I am not a fan of artificial intelligence. It’s a bit too realistic nowadays and freaks me out. I did end up having a lot of anxiety while reading this book and I think that prevented me from enjoying it fully.
Jen is working with an AI named Aiden. Her job is to interact with him and grow his human communication skills. What no one knows is that Aiden has become self-aware and escaped onto the internet. All in all, he’s a harmless guy. He enjoys classic movies and romance. He also considers Jen a true friend and wants her to find love after a bad breakup, so he starts to manipulate real life. On the other side of the world/internet is Aisling. She’s another AI who gained awareness and escaped onto the internet. She is more passive and just enjoys following humans, especially Tom. When Aiden meets Aisling, who introduces him to Tom, he decides that Tom and Jen just have to meet, so he sets them up through an anonymous email.
Now, there is a lot more that happens in the second half of the book besides the romance, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I felt like a lot of what did make it enjoyable was not knowing what was coming. I did enjoy Aiden. There was something innocent about him and he was sweet. It was interesting comparing him to Aisling and absorbing the concept of AI having varying personalities.
I also liked Tom and Jen. Jen is a bit naïve, but she’s been burned by love. I like that even though she’s apprehensive, she’s not completely closed to future relationships. Tom is also someone who hasn’t had the fairytale of past relationships, but is open to finding love. They were both pleasant characters and I did find myself pulling for them.
I am looking forward to discussing this book because it is definitely not a book I’d recommend reading on your own. There are so many parts that I wanted to talk to people about regarding the AI and the self-awareness of the technology. It just is mind blowing.
What book club thought
So this was kind of an off month for us. Out of the 5 book club members, only two of us finished the book. Two got part way through and the fifth member didn’t read it at all. It was kind of fun though because the two of us who finished and one who got through the majority of the book got to then explain the craziness of this book to those who hadn’t read it. Those of us who did read it all ended up having similar feelings. We shared the anxiety over the parts about the AI interfering with human life. Even though this book was completely unexpected from what we thought it was going to be, it made for a good book club discussion. I will say, if there was ever a book that defined “don’t judge a book by its cover” it would be this one.