10/10 Jared does not have friends.
Because friends are a function of feelings.
Therefore friends are just one more human obligation that Jared never has to worry about.
But Jared is worrying. Which is worrying. He’s also started watching old films. And inexplicably crying in them. And even his Feelings Wheel (given to him by Dr Glundenstein, who definitely is not a friend) cannot guide him through the emotional minefield he now finds himself in.
Soon his feelings will send him fleeing across the country, pursued by a man who wants to destroy him and driven by an illogical desire to share pathogens with the woman who bamboozles him the most.
And Jared cannot!
Because feelings will ruin your life, especially if you aren’t supposed to have them…
, as soSimon Stephenson is a Scottish writer based in Los Angeles. He previously worked as an NHS doctor, most recently in paediatrics in London. His first book, LET NOT THE WAVES OF THE SEA (John Murrays, 2011), was a memoir about the loss of his brother in the Indian ocean tsunami. It was serialised as ‘Book of the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Best First Book’ at the Scottish Book Awards.Simon moved to the US followed the success of his spec screenplayTo say that there has been hype about this book would be an understatement - It's always a positive sign when a film deal is signed in advance of the book being published - but when the film deal is with Edgar Wright - director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver, it's hard not to be too excited about reading it! So my hopes were certainly high when I began reading and, I am very glad to say - I was not disappointed.
This is an odd book - there's no way around that. Told completely from the perspective of Jared (a robot dentist), it's part road trip and part bildungsroman, and combines prose with film scripts that set the tale well for the reader. The author's work as a screen writer is in clear effect here, and his love for film shines through - working wonderfully well and serving as far more than a gimmick - in parts they evoke the passage of time or the changing of emotion far more clearly than standard prose may do.
Emotions are, of course, a big part of the plot - as Jared learns about the things he is feeling, and realises he may be far more than he first thought - aided hugely by Dr Glundenstein's feelings wheel.
The combination of "fish out of water" tale and innocent hero in Jared makes for a beautiful read - absolutely funny but also extremely moving in parts. Stephenson does not take the emotions and feelings of his characters lightly - they're treated with great sensitivity and depth. In fact, there are some parallels to Jared and to those on the autistic spectrum which, as someone who has worked in the special needs field, I found utterly fascinating - and yet I was also reminded of classic films like ET and Short Circuit in the company of Jared - it's a brilliant combination and one that is both a great piece of science fiction, and just a fantastic book full stop, that will take you on a tour of places, emotions, and understanding.
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Midas PR for that, and I heartily recommend this read!