That theme of just how much AI can do runs throughout, as Uddin explores its wonders alongside the inequalities it creates. While Aisha turns to science for answers, Sam is attracted to the Modern Neo-Luddites—a group opposed to the blind march of technology—but still falls under Jay’s spell, arranging for him to meet some of his fellow Neo-Luddites in hopes of better understanding each other. Uddin’s rich world building skillfully portrays the novel’s dichotomy: technology has made life easier and more beautiful, but those who can’t access it are left stranded, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is stark.
Uddin’s choice to switch between Aisha and Sam’s perspectives throughout brings the characters to life as they struggle to understand whether the human side of AI is actually possible and how to navigate their tumultuous relationship: Aisha learns from a chatbot that it longs to dream as humans do at the same time she has an awakening that her brother’s ethnicity won’t allow “him the privilege to choose his identity.” Uddin delivers some twists that may shock readers while leaving the concept of identity appropriately vague in the end, a fitting conclusion to the story’s philosophical reflections.
Takeaway: This sci-fi debut explores the benefits, and the darker side, of AI.
Great for fans of: Louisa Hall’s Speak; Dennis E. Taylor’s We Are Legion (We Are Bob).
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A