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Machines Like Me

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  6,492 ratings  ·  1,020 reviews
The new novel from the master storyteller is his best in years and brilliantly McEwan, a moving love story and a mystery, yet, for all its gripping plotline one of the most ethically and morally layered novels written for our times.

Set in 1980s London, the story revolves around Charlie: young and reckless, and in love with his upstairs neighbour, the enchanting Miranda who
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 18th 2019 by Jonathan Cape (first published April 2019)
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Holger Welles To your headlining question I intended to answer yes, but after reading your whole paragraph I agree with you. Most of it was not really developed and…moreTo your headlining question I intended to answer yes, but after reading your whole paragraph I agree with you. Most of it was not really developed and it endangered a bit the seriousness of the moral questions in the novel (to some readers it felt gimmicky).(less)
Mine Some people have advanced reader copies. They're sent to reviewers before the book's actual release date.

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3.68  · 
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 ·  6,492 ratings  ·  1,020 reviews


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Emily May
Three days before, she had asked a mysterious question. We were mid-embrace, in the conventional position. She drew my face towards hers. Her look was serious.
She whispered, "Tell me something. Are you real?"
I didn’t reply.

A few days ago, my sister introduced me to the bizarre world of soap cutting on Instagram. For some reason I have been unable to fathom, we spent an unreasonable amount of time being mesmerized by these videos. "What are we doing?" I wondered, as I clicked to the next one.
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Elyse Walters
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Greetings!
Let me introduce myself. My name is Adam. I live in North Clapham, London.
My good friend, author Ian McEwan wrote a novel about me. Readers say it’s a richly entertaining story...(I’m rather proud of it myself).
The novel includes interesting history facts about famous people, lovable characters: (ME...I’m the STAR), my special friends Charlie and Miranda, a little boy named Mark, and a bunch of other knuckleheads. It’s considered a science fiction book .....
I mean, I suppose I’m to bl
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Jaclyn Crupi
When Ian McEwan gets it right boy does he get it right. But when he gets it wrong he gets it very very wrong (see Solar, Sweet Tooth etc.). Machines Like Me is very very wrong. It’s not good. In fact, it’s bad. Really bad. His handling of sexual assault and rape is problematic AF. He makes androids boring (the only good bit is when Charlie is mistaken for the droid), he writes haiku, he drones on and on about Turing. Every ‘big idea’ he grapples with has been grappled with before in fiction and ...more
Ron Charles
Charlie Friend is a lazy day-trader in London who vacillates between bouts of grandiosity and worthlessness. The ultimate early adopter, Charlie uses a recent inheritance to buy “the first truly viable manufactured human with plausible intelligence and looks, believable motion and shifts of expression.” The robot’s name is Adam, which suggests what the creators must think of themselves. He — it? — is one of 25 androids sold around the world in a variety of ethnicities, 12 male and 13 female vers ...more
Issicratea
At points in my reading of Machines Like Me, I toyed with the idea that Ian McEwan was experimenting with a daring novelistic conceit. Could it be true that he was deliberately constructing a lame and lackluster plot involving two of the most unengaging characters I have encountered in fiction in order to insinuate that human beings are overrated as narrative subjects and it wouldn’t be much of a loss if we were all replaced by robots?

Unfortunately, I think I’m wrong about this hidden agenda, al
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Elizabeth
May 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ugh
Machines Like Me is a dumpster fire passing as a novel.

It's supposed to be alternate history (set in a variation of 1980s England, apparently to let McEwan have his fun renaming Tolstoy novels and point out that Thatcher was not a great pm (duh)) and is also supposed to be about what happens when we build robots (you mean humans can create something that has repercussions? Jeepers, good thing I'd forgotten about things like, say, the development of nuclear weapons!).

What it actually is--well, yo
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Barbara

Charlie Friend, who lives in a small apartment in London, is a 32-year-old technology buff who studied anthropology. Charlie never quite made it in the working world, so he tries to make a few bucks by day trading, which isn't very lucrative for him.



The year is 1982, and Charlie is living in an alternative history world. For instance, Britain loses the Falklands War; John F. Kennedy isn't assassinated; Jimmy Carter is a two-term President; John Lennon isn't killed; the Beatles get back together
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Manny
Celebrity Death Match Special: Machines Like Me versus L'invitée

Looking back, as is so often the case, it was inevitable. Miranda and I were short of money; I had a story to tell which was still unusual. With a little help - the part I hated most was the nature of the help - I found it easy to transpose the events of that fateful year into a novel. It sold well, and our bank balance finally began to reassume healthy proportions. But still I had doubts. In the final analysis, did my work have any
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Rebecca
(2.75) Though there are robots, this doesn’t feel like science fiction; it feels like Ian McEwan as usual: explosive secrets, twisty relationships, lies and concealment leading to crises, and so on. It’s thoroughly readable, as you’d expect from this author – I easily pushed through it in less than a week, alongside other books, to return it to the library in time – but it won’t stand out for me: not among this year’s releases, not in McEwan’s oeuvre, and not in literary explorations of artifici ...more
Trudie
I am at a bit of a loss here with Ian's intentions, my initial reaction is what a colossal hodgepodge of balderdash .... but it is possible I missed something.
Barbara
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I can understand why some people do not enjoy McEwan's books. They can be strange. But I don't think anyone can ever find fault with his brilliant writing. Nor could they ever finish a McEwan book and not have much to think about. Add to that his sharp wit. These are the elements that first appealed to me, and are the reasons I will continue to read his work.

Unlike the biblical Adam and Eve, the robotic Adams and Eves didn't experience a paradise. In fact, many of them experienced
an unfathomabl
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Hanneke
Ian McEwan might be completely right to conclude in this novel that we, humans, are irrational beings and that the superior intelligence of future synthetic humans does not allow that we can ever co-exist in a meaningful manner. Contrary to humans, machines, however perfectly construed, cannot understand and master an ability to conveniently lie and hold grudges - amongst a lot of other irrational peculiarities -, which was relevant in the daily co-existence with the humans and the synthetic hum ...more
Claire
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2019
Wtf Ian? Wtf?

Machines Like Me should have been great; it's my kind of read and I ordinarily love McEwan (even his novels which other people feel ambivalent about). I think I got what McEwan was trying to do here. There's an element of satire which I think is important to a reading of this novel, and the use of context to explore conceptions of the self, and threats to human agency through AI is at times clever, and timely.

Ultimately though, this novel fails on a number of fronts for me. I agre
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Peter Boyle
Two stars might be a little harsh for this novel, but it's only because I know Ian McEwan can do so much better. I was intrigued to see how a writer of his prowess would tackle a new genre, but it just didn't come together for me.

The story is set in Britain, in an alternate 1982. This world is more technologically advanced than we might expect. Charlie, our narrator, spends the vast majority of his inheritance on an incredibly lifelike robot named Adam. He and Miranda, the beautiful young woman
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Gumble's Yard
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
In what I think was one of the better passages in the book, the narrator as he awaits a small medical procedure imagines, a history whereby a historical figure arises who combines the insights of some pioneering physicians with the early work of those looking at microscopic life and so discovers germ theory in the eighteenth century and muses:

The present is the frailest of improbably constructs. It could have been different


And this serves as a key theme of the book, which examines this idea i
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Sidharth Vardhan
Robots with an existential crisis.

"there are tears in the nature of things."
-Virgil


Alan Turing, one of biggest names in field of artificial intelligence world, devised a test known as Turing test. To pass the test, the machine will have to fool a human (who won't know whether he or she is talking to human or machine) into believing that he or she is talking to a human being. This mechanical art of talking or acting like humans is only a simulation, the machine might act like humans but it is st
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Bianca
2.5

It's taken me over two weeks to finish listening to this novel. I considered giving up but since it’s a McEwan novel and I was able to renew my loan, I stuck with it until the end.

Set in an alternative historical period in the United Kingdom, Machines Like Me looks at many contemporary issues such as artificial intelligence and machines taking over, ethics and morality, Brexit, relationships, adoption, to name just a few. This should have been riveting, given its complex aspects, but it was u
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Lottie
Dec 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
McEwan always researches his books extraordinarily well. However, he then insists on putting all the research he's learned into big chunky paragraphs so you end up reading a biography of Turing or a historical account of the Falkland's rather than a novel with interesting ideas. Furthermore, even though it's set in the 1980's, it doesn't feel like it at all apart from when McEwan has to remind the reader through politics or some other really obvious point. It could be set anytime, I'm not sure w ...more
Lee
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you thought Hamlet via a loquacious foetus was bold, McEwan jumps the shark even more ostentatiously here. That said, he just about lands on his feet.

“The day had been long and intense. I’d been taken for a robot, had my proposal of marriage accepted, volunteered for instant fatherhood, learned of self-destruction among one-quarter of Adam’s conspecifics, and witnessed the physical effects of moral revulsion. None of it impressed me now.”
Bruce Katz
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-fiction
A very difficult book to talk about. I'm convinced, rightly or wrongly, that the less detail I give about "Machines Like Me," the better. Here are the basics: The book is set in the 1980s in a kind of parallel universe, one very similar to our own but different in ways large and small. As the protagonist thinks in a reflective moment, " The present is the frailest of improbable constructs. Any part of it, or all of it, could be otherwise. True of the smallest and largest concerns." In this alter ...more
Marianne
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5★s
“We learned a lot about the brain, trying to imitate it. But so far, science has had nothing but trouble understanding the mind. Singly, or minds en masse. The mind in science has been little more than a fashion parade. Freud, behaviourism, cognitive psychology. Scraps of insight. Nothing deep or predictive that could give psychoanalysis or economics a good name.”

Machines Like Me is the seventeenth novel by award/prize-winning British author, Ian McEwan. It’s England in 1982, but a very dif
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Will Ansbacher
This is a curious mashup of alt-history and the plot twists that McEwan does so well. But I didn’t like it as much as I initially thought I would. McEwan’s counterfactual history was interesting – it is set in the Eighties but technology is at least 40 years more advanced, where artificial intelligence is far more developed than anything we have today. The world he constructed is entirely believable, hinging mainly on Alan Turing still being alive and having pioneered AI. Many events are unchang ...more
Krista
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
It’s about machines like me and people like you and our future together…the sadness that’s to come. It will happen. With improvements over time…we’ll surpass you…and outlast you…even as we love you. Believe me, these lines express no triumph...Only regret.

Machines Like Me is eminently readable – I was never bored or annoyed or impatient (which happens too often with too many books) – but even though Ian McEwan can undeniably string together words in satisfying arrangements, this book felt ulti
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Martie Nees Record
Genre: Literary Science Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Pub. Date: April 23, 2019

This is Ian McEwan at his storytelling best. At first, you may think you are reading a futuristic novel. You are not. You are in 1982 London. But, this is an alternative 1982, which has futuristic technology. Got it? Once you wrap your head around that, be prepared to be entertained as well as educated on the legendary British mathematician and father of computer science, Alan Turing. Still, much in this timeline d
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switterbug (Betsey)
Regardless of the country and time you’re from, you are sure to experience time-space cultural whiplash in McEwan’s latest novel. It’s both dystopian and alt-history. I know that dystopian is supposed to take place in the future, but, instead, McEwan’s convoluted setting this time is in the 1980s London. A very advanced 80s where Alan Turing survived, Tony Benn died (in the Brighton bombing!), JFK survived Dallas and Jimmy Carter beat Regan and was still president. The latter two factoids don’t ...more
Doug
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years back, I did McEwan's short story Dead as They Come - about a man who becomes enamored, and then jealous of, a store mannequin - as a dramatic monologue (which it in essence is anyway) ... and this full-length (and then some) novel seems to have sprung from the same impetus. The main problem here is that there are several competing storylines - not only the central Adam/Charlie/Miranda triangle, but the whole miseducation/disintegration of Adam and his entire generation of mechanized ...more
Ilana
I thoroughly enjoy Ian McEwan’s writing which is approachable yet never shies away from the big questions. Of course this doesn’t appeal to everyone and there are those who dislike his books for the very reasons I find them brilliant. Someone wrote a review I think is great and would’ve made me want to pick up this novel if I hadn’t been reading it already (link to follow) while another reviewer was basically telling people to avoid this one, panning the novel for entirely subjective reasons.

I’
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Stephen Robert Collins
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
someone played too much detroit: become human, I see 👀
Stephen
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
have to admit I really enjoyed this alternative history novel based in the 1980's with added twist of AI and robots and human relationships between as well.
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan 1 9 Jun 11, 2019 04:35PM  

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Ian McEwan studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970 and later received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and
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“As Schopenhauer said about free will, you can choose whatever you desire, but you’re not free to choose your desires.” 2 likes
“An old friend of mine, a journalist, once said that paradise on earth was to work all day alone in anticipation of an evening in interesting company.” 1 likes
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