Friday, April 26, 2019

No One Here Is Lonely, by Sarah Everett

At a party, Eden and Will almost kissed.  A short time afterwards, he was dead.  Will’s grieving mother, misunderstanding the seriousness of the relationship, confides to Eden that there is way for her to still be with Will – a service called “In Good Service” that provides an AI program that emulates Will’s mannerisms.  Whenever she wants, Eden can call it and be with him again.

The idea seems weird, but Eden is going through a rough patch: her best friend Lacey no longer wants to hang out and is distancing herself, wrecking all the plans that they made together.  Meanwhile, Eden has discovered that her mother is having an affair with her little sister’s skating instructor.  With Lacey out of the picture, Eden finds herself confiding to Will over the phone.  As she gets more involved and starts using the program more heavily, her behavior becomes obsessive.  Eden has more and more trouble separating his miserable reality from this virtual fantasy.

A frankly creepy and disturbing premise that takes everyday smartphone obsession and kicks it up a notch. But beyond that element, the story is actually a nice exploration of finding the strength to be happy with yourself and expanding horizons.  At the start, Eden can’t imagine making new friends (Lacey has always provided whatever she needs).  Her growth towards opening up and exploring the world is richly rewarding and the true point of the story.  Predictably, she will shake off her obsession and outgrow her need for this AI program, but that character growth is what makes up the story.

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