ARC Review | Happiness for Humans by P. Z. Reizin

A must-read for romance fans looking for something different. 4/5.

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Thank you to Little, Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book.

Happiness for Humans will be published on 4th January 2018.

The blurb: 

(Machines aren’t supposed to have favourites. Don’t ask me how this has happened.)

Jen is sad. Aiden wants her to be happy. Simple? Except that Jen is a thirty-something woman whose boyfriend has just left her and Aiden is a very complicated, very expensive piece of software.

Aiden has calculated that Jen needs a man in her life for optimum wellbeing. And with the whole of the internet at his disposal, he doesn’t have to look far to find a perfect specimen and engineer a meeting. But what, exactly, makes human beings happy? And can a very-artificially-intelligent machine discover emotional intelligence in time to fix Jen’s life?

My take

This is an entertaining romantic comedy, the novel element being that a number of the characters are artificially intelligent software who have developed their own personalities and gone rogue to interfere in the love lives of “real people”.

If that sounds a little mind-bending, don’t worry. The story swaps between several narrators, both human and non-human. While it took me some time to settle into the rhythm of this switching, each section is clearly marked with the character’s name so you always know whose shoulder you’ll be sitting on for the scene. Besides, this structure is essential to create dramatic irony and build tension as we wait to see how the AIs’ plotting plays out in the lives of the humans.

The story is amusing throughout and very funny in places (largely thanks to the AI). That said, there’s also some great tension and good action sequences, with a few scenes towards the end of the book being genuinely edge-of-your seat stuff.

If I had to be picky and give reasons for not giving the full five stars… I’d say the story is slightly too long. I could have lost or shortened a couple of the scenes set in the US (in particular a dinner party scene) and I don’t think it would have been to the detriment of the plot or character development.

Also, the human characters suffer next to the AIs who, for not being real people, leap off the page. Their voices are so distinct and real, unfortunately the humans pale slightly by comparison.

Overall: a very entertaining romantic comedy with non-human characters who manage to out-shine their flesh and blood counterparts throughout. A must for romance fans looking for something slightly different.


Claire Huston / Art and Soul

 

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