An entertaining thriller if you let it take you along for the ride. 3/5 stars.
Thank you to Quercus for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.
She is a miracle of science.
But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?
This is a page-turning thriller which would be an ideal book to take with you on holiday. If you read it quickly, focussing on the plot and seeking to know what will happen next, I’m sure you’ll find it an entertaining mystery with sci-fi elements and a great way to pass a few hours. Each short chapter attempts to set up a cliffhanger to carry you across to the next and most of the time these are entirely successful.
I must also praise the author for the brave and highly-effective use of the second person singular as the narrative voice in one of the story threads and then the first person plural in the other. Both of these choices work really well, reflect the degree of disassociation the AI cobot feels between its new and former identity and sets things up nicely for the reveals at the end.
The problems for me come from overthinking things! The more you reflect on the set-up and the ins and outs of how the cobots would actually work – and perhaps I do this because I’ve read quite a bit of sci-fi – holes in the plot start to appear. Also, the characters aren’t especially likeable, and if you stop to dwell on this it is quite off-putting.
I also felt the end was sadly rushed. I thought this was a shame because there was a sense of great momentum buidling towards the conclusion, so for the last few chapters to pass in an under-explained and under-explored blur was a wasted opportunity when they could have rewarded the reader for their investment in the story with a far more satisfying pay off.
And finally, and I know this probably won’t occur to many readers, I take issue with a few of the things that are said about autism in The Perfect Wife. I note that the author has used his own experiences with his son when creating the character of Danny. But, given the author has such personal experience of autism, it surprises me even more that the book contains a few unhelpful generalisations which do nothing to dispel misconceptions about ASD. The worst, in my opinion, is the reiteration of the idea that autistic people have no empathy/are incapable of empathy. I’m not going to go off on one here as to why that’s not the case, but if you’re interested, there’s a useful short article about it here. Anyway, I do appreciate this is a personal gripe which is unlikely to irritate most readers, but it did reduce my enjoyment of the book as a whole as it was something I couldn’t get past.