Book Reviews

Review: Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

I was fascinated by the possibility of personal recommendations for happiness, but what I found was so much more. Tell the Machine Goodnight was about our relationship to our family, to our friends, and to ourselves.


Pearl’s job is to make people happy. Every day, she provides customers with personalized recommendations for greater contentment. She’s good at her job, her office manager tells her, successful. But how does one measure an emotion?

Meanwhile, there’s Pearl’s teenage son, Rhett. A sensitive kid who has forged an unconventional path through adolescence, Rhett seems to find greater satisfaction in being unhappy. The very rejection of joy is his own kind of “pursuit of happiness.” As his mother, Pearl wants nothing more than to help Rhett–but is it for his sake or for hers? Certainly it would make Pearl happier. Regardless, her son is one person whose emotional life does not fall under the parameters of her job–not as happiness technician, and not as mother, either.


book review tell the machine goodnight by katie williams(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Tell the Machine Goodnight was like one major thought experiment. I adored the multiple perspectives of this book, not only because we were able to see the story from varying points of view, but also because each of them tell a new story. They add to the world, they add to the themes of family and relationships, and they are wonderful to read.

The world building of Tell the Machine Goodnight is superb. It’s not only about personal recommendations to be happy, but how our relationship to technology develops. At the same time, how do these predictions change how we relate to people? Also is happiness is all they’re cracked up to be?

My e-copy of Tell the Machine Goodnight is littered with highlights, not only because of beautiful sentences, but because of the way they stop me in my tracks. Even looking at my notes, I’m still shocked by how rich and detailed the world is. I cannot stop thinking about the technology in this book. How did this system evolve? I would read a prequel of this world.

Each chapter switches to a new perspective and with it another facet of the story. They all combine to tell one cohesive story line, but with a new flair, a new secret, and new revelation. At the same time they also illuminate different aspects of this puzzle – what will we do for happiness? What should we do? Tell the Machine Goodnight is a phenomenal read, one I would really recommend to anyone who enjoys thought provoking science fiction. Check it out on Goodreads.


Do you have a favorite science fiction read?

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