Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.
She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.
So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.
As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.
Emily is an artificial consciousness, which (as she’ll tell you herself) is categorically not the same thing as an artificial intelligence. She’s a little more advanced than that.
Despite her digital existence, Emily lives a life very similar to most humans. She sleeps, she showers, she crushes on cute guys, and she has a job. Basically, she lives a life as close to ours as she can in order to better understand us. She experiences all of the little, day-to-day stresses that we do. Which is helpful, given that she works as a therapist. And we need as many of those as we can get, now that the world is about to end.
I found Emily Eternal to be a book of two parts. There’s the beginning, where we are introduced to Emily as she helps her patients deal with their traumas, and discusses potential ways to save the world with her lab-mates and creators. And then there’s the part where Emily is on the run, where there are fights and conspiracies and lots of gunshots.
Emily is a fascinating character, and I was invested in her development pretty much from the start. She’s so kind and caring and empathetic, and it’s almost a breath of fresh air to read about a character like that these days. She has such love and respect for the people around her, but unfortunately she’s just as capable of hurting them as a human is.
For much of the book, there’s this sense of intimacy which makes for a delicious contrast with the “end of the world” aspect of the plot. It’s sorta like… “Sure, the world is ending. But for now, let’s focus on us.”
Those intimate scenes, where I really got to see Emily’s empathy shine through, were by far my favourites. They showed just how unique a character she is, and really got me rooting for her as a protagonist.
Unfortunately, I feel like some of that intimacy was lost amidst the action of the second part of the book. The sense of scale rapidly increases, and some more fantastical Sci-Fi elements are introduced. I personally found this shift to be a bit of a jarring experience, but would be willing to bet that other readers might find this exciting.
This has a little bit of everything: action, emotion, high stakes, and romance. It’s written in the first-person, in a way which lets Emily’s personality shine through and enhance the story without overshadowing it. The pace and action ramp up as the characters go from talking about saving the world to actually trying to save it.
I have so much more to say about Emily Eternal, but in the interests of keeping this review as spoiler-free as I can, I’ll wrap it up there for now. If you’re interested in reading a Sci-Fi book with one of the most likeable characters there is, with a mix of slow-paced intimate scenes and some high-stakes action, then Emily Eternal is the one for you.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Hodderscape, in exchange for a fair and honest review.