The Companions

Katie Flynn. Scout, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-982122-15-7
A deadly virus strikes near-future California in Flynn’s nightmarish debut, leading to a quarantine of the state’s surviving residents in sealed towers. “Companions” are provided to the shut-ins in the form of the dead, whose consciousnesses have been uploaded into various forms, from crude robots to flesh-covered humanoids. The robot-embodied Lilac serves Dahlia, a petulant adolescent, by entertaining her with snippets of Lilac’s life before death and quarantine. Lilac’s memories of teen parties lead her to buffer on a scene in which she is battered by a boy whose advances she resisted. But when Dahlia’s mother threatens to send Lilac back to the factory for breaking things around the apartment, Lilac escapes, setting out to find out what happened to her best friend, Nikki, who was with her when she died. On the way, she meets Cam, a compassionate caregiver to geriatric patients; Gabe, a feral child living on the streets; Jakob, a movie star turned companion; and Rachel, a passing-for-human companion whose memory might hold the key to Lilac’s quest. Told by eight voices over the course of 20 years, the overly busy narrative often threatens to overwhelm Lilac’s story. But by the end, Flynn’s vibrant characters movingly answer the oft-asked question, “What does it mean to be human?” This will satisfy fans of literary and science fiction alike. (Mar.)

Correction: this review has been updated to correct two incorrect plot points.

Reviewed on : 12/13/2019
Release date: 03/03/2020
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0408-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-0410-2
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