Book Reviews

Review: To Dream: The Anatomy of a Humachine by Louis K. Lowy

If I can’t bare my soul to a robot whom can I bare it to?

This book completely exceeded my expectations. The summary does not do this book enough justice. It does not include the diverse characters, the artfully crafted plot, or the exploration of the boundary between human and machine.

Jay was her flesh and blood. She would know if a part of hum existed. She would know.

Goodreads summarizes the book as, “guilt ridden over the death of her 17-year-old son, Jay, scientist Niyati Bopari heads a team that creates a Humachine (human machine) for mega-corporation Ameri-Inc. Niyati dubs the Humachine J-1 and creates it in Jay’s image. She secretly infuses it with Jay’s DNA. J-1 is the most sophisticated robot ever created and its purpose is to replace human labor. Before J-1 and his blueprints can be transported to Ameri-Inc. headquarters a rogue Ameri-Inc. agent attempts to steal them”.

You are machine to flesh and sinew, and flesh and sinew to machines. You have no place.

Switching between the present and the past, the readers are taken on an origin journey. We find out exactly what lead to the creation of J-1 as well as the current state of the world. Slowly the plot elements weave together in a way which keeps us flipping page after page. Reading feels like one of those roller coasters where you feel the ascent, turning faster, knowing you are steadily moving towards the peak.

I don’t know what the truth is anymore. For someone like me who lives on data and analysis…that’s hell

My favorite part of the book was the characters, specifically Niyati, Rebeka, and Norma. In short, they are fantastically complicated female characters who have to navigate positions of authority, guilt, and the border of human and machine themselves. They have real flaws: afraid of human connection, driven to madness by guilt, and struggling to reclaim what is lost. All the characters share, main protagonists and side ones alike, a quest for belonging and their place in the world.

What if I was dreaming for a reason? What if something inside of me was crawling to the surface?

Even more so, this book deals with real and contemporary issues such as the ethics of cyborgs, environmental degradation, and corrupt corporate power. If those issues interest you, or you enjoy complex female characters, or just want to read a good adventure book, you should pick this book up here, add it on Goodreads or check out the author’s website. Because when the border between human and machine is breached, where do we all stand?

Let’s discuss: What do you think about cyborgs? What is you favorite cyborg film/book?

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If you liked this review, you might like my review of Virtual Girl

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