Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Message Not Found, by Dante Medema

Bailey shows promise as a programmer and has a deep interest in artificial intelligence (inspired in no small part by her mom's professional interests).  Fatefully, this proves useful when her best friend Vanessa dies in a car crash.  Grieving the loss, Bailey is bothered by one thing:  what was her friend doing on that road in the first place?  She realizes that AI might be able to give her the answer.  

Her Mom has been developing a bot that simulates human intelligence.  Bailey steals the program and feeds it with every piece of data she can find about Vanessa, hoping the bot will be able to assume enough of Vanessa's personality to answer her questions.  At first, the results are not promising but as Bailey starts uploading not only her own data but things she's stolen from their friends' private accounts and phone records, the answers Baily is seeking start to materialize.  But at what price?  And is knowing the truth necessarily what you really want in the end?

An interesting premise (using AI as a means to speak with the dead) that hooked me in early, combined with good characterization.  The pacing can be slow and the ending is WAY too drawn out, but the story mostly held up for me.  On its face, this is a typical YA-tragic story with its stages of grieving spelled out along the way.  However, the story is really more of a mystery and the unfolding of the truth has a good number of twists and turns to keep the tale interesting.  In the end, I really appreciated the originality of the story and all of the details in the storytelling.

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