Author: John M. Cusick
Your Age Recommendation: 15+
Publication Date: August 2010
Available for Kindle?: Yes
My Rating: 3.5/5
David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uberconnected world.
John M. Cusick is a friend of a friend, and this book has been on my radar for a good while. I was able to snag a copy from my local library, and I read it in two stints. It’s quick and reads easily, and makes a few statements without sounding preachy, which I really applaud.The world in which ‘Girl Parts’ takes place is so centred on technology that even “school” is a set of computers that play lessons for students to watch on a daily basis. Computers are synced to feed off of one another, so on one monitor you might be writing a paper about the proliferation of coffee shops in your town, and as a result, your second monitor could be pulling up Starbucks coupons, while the third monitor is maybe linking you to a dating website for people who love coffee.
In short: Maybe it wasn’t all that far into the future.
The story opens with a girl blending up a bottle of medication, throwing in some other ingredients to make a shake, and then downing the whole thing, thereby killing herself.
All via a live feed on the Internet.
That suicide sets the tone of the whole novel. Sykora, a technology company, begins production of Companions, which are android girls that appear to be absolutely human.
The intent of a Companion is to showcase an adolescent boy how to develop healthy relationships without rushing one portion of another. For example: if he tries to get fresh with his Companion before that makes sense in their relationship, he is administered a shock.
Although Charlie’s somewhat Missing-in-Action father isn’t sold on the idea, David’s parents buy him Companion named Rose, and things progress from there.
Rose is arguably the best thing about this book, for me. She’s a droid, obviously, and probably the coolest thing about that is that she knows that, somehow, in everything she does, and it’s an act of absolute rebellion that allows her to sever ties with her droid-centric direction and develop a real, true personality.
Cusick managed to create a world that was similar enough to ours to allow me, as a reader, to relate, but is disturbing enough that it made me wish-hope-pray that we never find ourselves this submerged in technology. Because you see, the irony is not lost on me, or anyone else probably: What kind of backward logic is it to use technology to temper an adolescent boys antisocial tendency?
Having said that, if I may repeat myself: Maybe this version of our world isn’t all that far off.
A novel that will, at the very least, make you think.