Book Review: Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan

This is a sci-fi novel about a young man named Devin and his sister, Jane. Siblings of the wealthy Colt family, they begin the novel with something strange happening to their significant others: Devin’s girlfriend reacted strangely to his marriage proposal, “freezing” in place. Jane’s boyfriend has disappeared, with various people covering up his absence. As the siblings investigate further, it seems that their significant others have been (or are being) replaced with artificial intelligence. There’s much more to the plot, but I don’t want to spoil it, as elements and characters (and their true identities) are revealed as you read.

While taking the reader on a sci-fi journey, the novel also examines the debate about science versus religion and the nature of existence/belief/awareness. For instance, Jane isn’t very religious, but her boyfriend is studying to devote his life to religion, and she seems drawn to his philosophies. Not to mention all the AI.

The strength of the novel is definitely the plot. Once the action picks up, the pace rarely slows down. The various settings allow for some interested (and often seedy) characters. This is where the book really shined—where characters were allowed to speak for themselves and let their actions characterize them. For me, the weakness was being told too much rather than being shown—with both flashbacks and with explaining concepts that exist in the Colts’ world. This diminished as the book progressed, and by the end, you’ll find yourself turning pages to finish. The book definitely picks up as you read it—I wish the first part were shorter so I could get to the end more quickly!

I would recommend this book to fans of sci-fi (though there isn’t much hard core sci-fi here, and in some cases, more description would have been interesting), fans of action, and fans of philosophy. It’s an easy read, making it ideal for a YA or adult audience.