A Review of: We Are Satellites, by Sarah Pinsker

First…. My first overall impression of this story was: just shoot me now. The first half of the book is an overall feeling of annoyance. The main characters at that point – the moms – so much wining and complaining and anxiety, and caution and I just wanted to run away forever. It was not enjoyable. I am frankly surprised I read the whole book.

The overall concept is: technology is bad. And if you choose to adopt early technology, you’re gonna pay, because advancements, and technology, are bad. So much anti technology in this book. Really, – though the story weaves, and focuses on the people – the message I got- is that technology is bad.

And here I though it was gonna read some nice, fun speculative fiction! Nope. Nothing fun here. Just a you better think long and hard about choose technology story. So much ‘lessons’. This book was a slog. But hey, if you’re anti technology, science, and advancing our technology – you will probably will love it.

I found the formatting of the book jarring. We start with the moms, and the kids are young. Flip a page and the teen is now in the army. Flip another section, and he’s home. So many years are ‘skipped’ between sections, with no lead into it, or follow up like what happened in those 5 years? So much was sadly missing. But at the same time, the least thing I wanted to read was 5 more years detailing anxiety over the son in the army, the daughter with seizures, and the friction between words of the moms, one with the technology and one without.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

** mild spoilers ahead**

The technology, is a brain implant, that ‘help’ people to have more attention. Multitask better, in a truer form of the word – effectively being able to focus on more than one thing at a time, like having a conversation, and watching a tv show, and being fully present in both. Lots of people get it, because it helps them learn better, study better, accomplish more, be a more effective employee, etc.

Naturally, it isn’t suitable for everyone as some people aren’t eligible, like Sophie, because of her epileptic seizures. And other people have unexpected side effects, like David, who’s brain is effectually hyperactive, and can’t cope with the amped up stimuli, making it extremely hard for him to manage. Especially, because the company doesn’t acknowledge this side effect, or offer any way to cope with it, or fix it. They essentially just make him believe he’s broken, or not doing the work, etc…. which, is totally believable. Why would a company jeopardize their money cow?

I’m not sure who the story was really about. David’s journey of wanting implant, getting implant, hating implant, deactivating implant, discovering brain works the same now without implant, developing a drug dependency to silence the brain [with a twist of it’s own, because said drug is made by the same company as the implant.. corporations are evil basterds!] to Davids accident cause by being too high on said drugs. Or, is it Sophie’s story? Not able to get implant because of epilepsy. Being tormented in school as a slow kid, because no implant, getting even more ‘left behind’ because no implant Discovering activism against implant and company making it. Growing to adult who is against it and heading an activist group, with her whole life and being revolving around being opposed to implant. Or the moms story? Val is a teacher, and instantly chooses no implant because she feels solidarity for her daughter never being able to get one. In the beginning , but then becomes all anti-technology. Her journey to loosing her job because she yells at army recruiters because of David joining the army. Or Julie, who wants and gets the implant to keep up in her job, be effective, watch Sophie better, etc – and the friction of the family being two on each side. The Julie starts spying on Sophie in a chat forum, pretending to be someone she isn’t and anti the technology. Just you know, to keep tabs, because she worries… but – seriously, are you kidding me?!?!? This is unacceptable stalker behaviours going against person privacy – even from parents! Wow. It really went down a dark hole with that. And to top it off – naturally Sophie discovers her mother spying on her in the chat forum – and is very angry. Then she tells the other mom, Val, who’s also very angry… but none of that gets properly addressed, because David had the hit by a train accident, and all the other stuff is just swept aside. I’m mad at you, but David is more important. And the story never comes back to it – to have the hard conversations. It just… moves to a convenient point when it’s ancient history and everyone is happy and working together. eyerolls. Yep, it was a hard bit of plot to resolve nicely, and satisfactorily… so we’ll just skip it, completely, other than briefly mentioning it was known, and it wasn’t forgiven, but we’re dealing with David first. Weak, and poor job from the editor for not making that plot get finished.

Anyway, the book swims between all 4 of these stories and journeys. And some of it is interesting and even thought provoking. But the overall tone and message of the book is always there: if you support technology, you’re on the wrong side. And to be honest – this is not the mindset we need to be promoting in this day and age! Let’s just give up and allow the earth to be flat, shall we?

The story Is set in a time when the technology is new, and goes from a few people having it, to kids getting it, to schools being subsidized for poorer families, etc. And the polarizing battle between those that have it/ support it and those without/ against it.

There are some fair points, but the overall feeling of it is just way too bogged under the whole message that it’s bad.

I did not enjoy this book. And I do not recommend it. The tone is depressing, and like a lecture that goes on forever. Like I said at the beginning – just shoot me now was hoe this book made me feel.

Hard pass.

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