Bree T's Reviews > Girl Parts

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
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Aug 23, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: library-reads, young-adult

Girl Parts opens with a suicide of a teenage girl that is broadcast live on the web, watched by many. When David Sun – rich, privileged, popular, is found out by his parents as being one of the ones that watched, they are distressed. As is the school counselor. David can’t see the big deal, plenty of people watched, so what? But it isn’t that he watched that’s bothering them, it’s that he did nothing. They diagnose David with ‘disassociative disorder’ and the counselor proposes a rather radical treatment. A company makes ‘Companions’ which are basically robots that look exactly like humans. The ‘Companions’ come with a very strict code of what is appropriate at any given point of the friendship – for example, when they first meet someone, they judge that it is appropriate for a handshake at this particular time of their acquaintance. Try and push too far and do something that their Code isn’t comfortable with and you’ll receive a very nasty electric shock. David isn’t at all enthusiastic about this, but his parents decide that he will have one and Rose arrives. When he gets a look at Rose, David thinks this might not be so bad after all. Because Rose is hot. And she has been programmed to please David in (almost) every aspect. Unfortunately the aspect David seems most interested in, Rose can’t help him with.

So David is forced to get to know Rose slowly, the old fashioned way! He takes her to meet his friends but leaves out the fact that she is a Companion, allowing his friends to believe that she is some incredibly beautiful girl from out of town that he is dating. Rose herself has to learn to adjust to life as a teenager and although she is a little stilted, the more time she spends with humans, the more successful she is at mimicking them and becoming ‘real’. As their friendship progresses at the correct pace, David is ready to move things up a notch, only to get a nasty shock – and not the electric sort this time. He spurns Rose, who is devastated, and she flees.

Enter Charlie, a character we have touched on a few times in the book for seemingly no real purpose. Although also questioned by the Counselor and offered a Companion of his own, Charlie has refused any sort of treatment, thinking that just because he’s a bit of a loner and doesn’t have a girlfriend, that there doesn’t necessarily have to be anything wrong with him. When he rescues a distraught Rose, he doesn’t realise at first that she’s a Companion. Charlie is Rose’s saviour and they forge a friendship unrestricted by the Code of Propriety that the Companions are usually subject to.

I’d heard quite a few things about this novel so I was quite eager to pick it up and get into it. When I finally did get it from the Library, I started it almost right away but it took me about four days to finish it, which is very unusual for me. I struggled with really getting into the novel and forgetting everything else that was going on around me and actually, found distractions in almost anything when I was reading it. For starters, I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters – David is shallow and annoying, spending his days online and his nights drinking or getting stoned and driving home. He doesn’t want Rose until he sees her and realises that she’s very attractive. Then all he thinks about is sleeping with her, and when he finds out that he can’t just yet, most of his actions towards Rose seem to revolve around achieving his ultimate end goal. I didn’t think that his feelings for her were particularly genuine or related to how she acted, and that they were all about getting past the Code so that he could have sex with her. When he realises that he can’t, his reverts back to his regular self and although I do think he feels some loss at Rose, because she was the first ‘person’ he connected with (which he did because he had to, both by his parents and in his want to eventually have sex with her) I don’t think he feels the loss as keenly as he would if he had truly loved her.

Charlie was an average Joe in every way. Not rich yet not exactly poor, a loner at school, no girlfriend although we do get to see him go on one fairly disastrous date, living with his single father. He seems like a nice boy but there’s no real substance to him. I don’t understand anything about him and although he’s generous and kind to Rose, you get the feeling he’d be like that to anyone, beautiful or otherwise, or even a stray dog he might find on the street. He helps Rose and hides her when her creator’s come looking for her but ultimately he’s not skilled enough to do this forever.

The ending was also a bit wonky for me. It gives you no real particular closure on a couple of things and although it suggests that there is hope of a good future for Charlie (and perhaps less hope for David) so many things are unresolved, including the issue of Rose and I closed the book feeling a bit…let down and disappointed. Like someone had taken the book off me before the ending and I never got to find out how it really finished. But I have an issue with books that end like that! I love closure. Others might not be so bothered by this type of ending.
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