What initially drew me into Plum Rains was the premise and I was not disappointed in the slightest.
In Tokyo, Angelica Navarro, a Filipina nurse who has been working in Japan for the last five years, is the caretaker for Sayoko Itou, an intensely private woman about to turn 100 years old. Angelica is a dedicated nurse, working night and day to keep her paperwork in order, obey the strict labor laws for foreign nationals, study for her ongoing proficiency exams, and most of all keep her demanding client happy.
But one day Sayoko receives a present from her son: a cutting-edge robot caretaker that will educate itself to anticipate Sayoko’s every need. Angelica wonders if she is about to be forced out of her much-needed job by an inanimate object—one with a preternatural ability to uncover the most deeply buried secrets of the humans around it.
While Angelica is fighting back against the AI with all of her resources, Sayoko is becoming more and more attached to the machine. The old woman is hiding many secrets of her own—and maybe now she’s too old to want to keep them anymore.
This world is highly technological and it drew me in. Plum Rains has questions of agency, technology, and robots. In the world of world building, I’d have to give it a full five. It’s so rare, but I adored how the world was detailed and multi-dimensional. There isn’t a whole lot more to say because for most of the book I just geeked out hard about the questions of creator/created, robotic learning, and the commentary on healthcare and technology.
One of the principal concerns in the book is the technological advancement of healthcare to eliminate human health care practitioners. We’ve already begun seeing that in regards to other industries, and so it becomes a very real concern in the future – and for these characters. At the same time, Plum Rains deals with issues of migration, disapora, and prejudice. There are intense feelings and discrimination against the guest workers and this consistently frames the narrative in Plum Rains.
So while the initial world building drew me in, it kept me hooked. There were complex layers revealed even within the system of childcare. Another issue that I loved was the discussion of motherhood. Who wants to and should be mothers? There are some sections that are heavy in information off loading, but it has to get over a huge broach in information. I also want to mention that it’s a dual perspective novel that really works. The pace is slow and unhurried. At the same time there are also amazing questions of agency being asked as well. Check out Plum Rains on Goodreads.