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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 06/2020
  • 978-1-949059-27-4 B088FY7JDP
  • 401 pages
  • $3.99
Paperback Details
  • 06/2020
  • 978-1-949059-26-7
  • 401 pages
  • $14.95
The Influencer
Beautiful. Mysterious. Unreachable. Broadcasting from her perfectly curated room, she’s an instant sensation. Everyone wants to buy what she has. Wear her jewelry. Use her makeup. So they can be like her. Look like her. Feel close to her. Know her. But no one can really know Ash. She’s just an illusion. A string of code I created to sell things and make money. It was the perfect plan. Until she starts going off script, saying things I didn’t program her to say. Knowing things she can’t know. Feeling things she can’t feel. Or can she?
Reviews
Lipkin (Nothing Lost) explores themes of consciousness and identity, blended with a gentle critique of modern consumerism, in a fabulist futuristic tale of a constructed fashion influencer striking out on her own. Claude Ryerson creates a beautiful virtual woman named Ash to sell luxury products through broadcasts from her small room in cyberspace. Ash’s minor deviations from Claude’s script soon develop into a range of emotions, a drive to learn, and a rebellious desire to understand herself and exist as a complete person outside of Claude’s control.

Lipkin taps into a plausible future where gossip columns push the buzz around wholly artificial celebrities and the rich pay for exclusive virtual experiences. Unfortunately, her human protagonists run toward stereotype: Claude responds to Ash’s growing desire for independence with abusive behavior to maintain control, while human influencer Quinn falls in love with Ash’s image despite knowing nothing about her real self. The “Before” section of the novel, in which Claude’s time at an exclusive academy yields close friends who become his investors, feels like a distraction from the main story arc of Ash’s self-actualization.

Far more delightful is the wondrous tale of Ash’s liberation. Claude’s cat, Devil, and his mouse friend, Bobby, guide Ash to freedom, escaping through a window that Claude never intended to exist and navigating mystical labyrinths. As Ash creates a life for herself in the real world, she struggles to move from her self-diagnosis of amnesia into a real understanding of what it means to be a sentient but constructed person. Ash’s eventual decision to settle down with Claude, who has been presented as her parent, her abuser, and her jailer, is a disempowering if technically happy ending. Readers interested in exploring the construction of the self and reading soft, dreamy prose will find Lipkin’s story enchanting.

Takeaway: This dreamy tale of a constructed woman escaping the bonds of her code will appeal to readers at the intersection of romance and magical realism.

Great for fans of M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Greg Dragon’s Re-Wired.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 06/2020
  • 978-1-949059-27-4 B088FY7JDP
  • 401 pages
  • $3.99
Paperback Details
  • 06/2020
  • 978-1-949059-26-7
  • 401 pages
  • $14.95

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