Were you disappointed by Klara and the Sun? Then try The Actuality, which by a coincidence was published just before Ishiguro’s overhyped novel. It has a similar theme and has a decent plot. I was very impressed with this debut novel.
Set in a dystopian Europe, over 100 years from now, the story is narrated by Evie, an android who was modelled on a real woman and who lives a sheltered existence with her husband Matthew and loyal servant, Daniels. However, androids of her type were outlawed years ago when it was decided that they were dangerous. The story takes a dramatic turn when people come after her, wishing to sell, possess or destroy her. Strongly emotional and indistinguishable from a real human except for what’s beneath her skin, Evie is very much a character to root for.
The pacing of the novel is very good and except for a few chapters towards the end where the story became mired in too much detail, it held my attention. I would classify it as science fiction but it’s of the kind that should appeal to a broader audience, as the science part is subtly done and the author’s vision of the future is interesting. The novel makes you question the definition of ‘human’.
The author’s unnecessary note at the end of the book, about how plausible it could be, did spoil the magic a little. I think the writing could have done with more editing, as there were some clunky sentences and a strange overuse of the word ‘huffs’ (every character seems to huff at some point).
Despite these few reservations, I recommend this book!
First published in 2021 by Sandstone Press.