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The Companions

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Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go in this debut novel set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.

In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.

Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.

Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

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Katie M. Flynn

3 books69 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,318 reviews4,839 followers
November 26, 2021

Sixteen-year-old high school girls Lilac and Nikki are best friends who go to class together, eat lunch together, hang out together, and confide in each other about everything.

The best friends, however, have a fractious relationship with the school's 'in girls', and Lilac especially dislikes the ginger-haired queen bee she calls Red.

During a keg party, Lilac is looking for a quiet spot when she comes upon Red having sex with a tall husky jock. Lilac screams in surprise, people come running, and everyone starts laughing. Red is embarrassed, and later that night, Red whacks Lilac with a shovel and sends her off a cliff.

When Lilac wakes up she's in the squat, can-shaped body of a robot, to which her 'consciousness' has been transferred.

Welcome to the future, when people on the verge of death (or who just died) can have their consciousness moved into a carrier, which ranges from a cheap metal robot to an expensive human-looking body.

The consciousness-containing carrier - which is the intellectual property of the Metis Corporation that developed the technology - can be leased by members of the public. Often, the renters are family members who want to keep a loved one in their midst.

As it happens, however, there's another group of people who lease carriers. These are San Franciscans quarantined in their homes for YEARS because of deadly viruses released in the city. These isolated people want company, or babysitters, or sex partners, or whatever. The companions are considered safe because they're 'command-driven', meaning they must obey human instructions and don't have free will. (Famous last words. LOL 🙄)

Lilac's robot body is the least expensive model, a bottom-of-the-line tin can that a woman rented for her school-age daughter Dahlia. Mother and daughter are quarantined in their San Francisco high rise, and young Dahlia needs a friend.

After Lilac is with Dahlia for a couple of years, the mother decides to send the robot back. Hearing this Lilac almost murders the woman, then escapes.

Robot Lilac is determined to confront the high schooler who killed her, and makes her way to the Jedediah Smith care home in northern California. That's where Red - now a cantankerous old woman - is living out her final years.

Lilac sneaks into the facility and confronts Red, saying "You hit me - pushed me off that cliff. Nikki - what did you do to Nikki?"

Red gets hysterical, throws a bottle of booze at the little robot, and irreparably damages it. All of this is witnessed by Cam, one of the caregivers at Jedediah Smith, who's deeply affected by the incident.

Through a confluence of circumstances Lilac gets a human-looking body and becomes reacquainted with Cam, whose carelessness gets her fired from Jedediah Smith. Lilac and Cam set off together and, over time, have a variety of interactions with other companions and humans.

The story unfolds over a couple of decades, during which time quarantine ends; several companions break protocol and kill humans; and there's a recall of ALL companions - which are either burned or compacted. Some companions, however, escape and go undercover, unwilling to give up their 'lives.'

The narrative is convoluted, with a large number of characters, both humans and companions. Moreover, the companions change bodies from time to time, which adds to the complexity. In addition to the characters mentioned above - as well as an array of secondary players - the novel's main protagonists are:

- Diana, a doctor who developed Metis's companion technology. She sometimes operates outside the law.

-Gabe, a young girl who 'slinks and slides' and aids the doctor's illegal activities.

- Jakob, a handsome actor who didn't read his contract carefully enough. Jakob's studio transfers his consciousness to look-alike robot bodies without even a by-your-leave.

- Nat, a computer whiz who wants to help companions.

- Ms. Espera, a sick woman whose daughter and ex-husband insist she transfer her consciousness to a young new body.

- Rolly, a teenager who helps his father dispose of recalled companions.

- Andy, Rolly's toddler brother, who loves birds and bears, and is good at hiding out.

- Rachel, a human-like companion who hires herself out to do work for people.

The novel's components - deadly viruses; people quarantined for years; possible immortality - have tremendous potential, but the narrative doesn't quite come together. Some parts of the book are compelling and suspenseful, but other parts fall flat.....and I never really got the point of the story.

My takeaway from the book is that some people are good; some people are bad; family - whatever form it takes - is important; and you can't trust robots with human consciousness. In the end, I was a little disappointed.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Katie M. Flynn), and the publisher (Gallery/Scout Press) for a copy of the book.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,165 reviews2,234 followers
February 27, 2021
*top 10 worst reads of 2019*
Maybe this book is not meant for me. I got so hyped up regarding the description of this one but I am hugely disappointed.

The first chapter started out good but yes, the chapters are so terribly long and it feels like the read was just dragging on and on. New character introduction and the various events described are somewhat too mundane considering it's a sci-fi dystopian kind of read. Considering the main theme tackled that is regarding quarantine, I couldn't see much relevance regarding it in the plot build up. The characters are too mundane for such kind of read. And the plot gets really weak. The characters seemed so bored and uninterested. I lost interest in the book totally at around 44 per cent.
The last few chapters are really slow and the ending was no surprise.

Sadly, this one is not for me.

Thank you #NetGalley for the book #TheCompanions in exchange of an honest review.
June 6, 2021

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Initially, the premise of this book reminded me a lot of the TV show, Upload. After a deadly virus forces everyone into quarantine, people start renting Companions, the consciousnesses of dead people that have been saved and reuploaded into animatronics. Some of them are incredibly sophisticated, but others are low-tech with exposed chassises and, like, hooks for hands.

The first couple chapters were really great and at first, I was surprised it had such a low rating on GR. But then I kept reading and kept getting hit with different POVs. Some people like multiple narrators but this book is on the shorter side and it felt like every time I was starting to get a handle on who character X was and relating to them, the author switched to the next vignette-style chapter with another POV. The POVs also mostly sounded the same to me.

I think maybe the author tried to do too much with THE COMPANIONS. It's a pandemic novel, an AI novel, a novel about life after death, a novel about rebellions, a novel about class-- and there just isn't really time to explore all of these topics, so it ends up feeling kind of disorganized and rushed, in my opinion. The author had some great ideas. It just didn't really gel.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 to 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Faith.
1,821 reviews498 followers
March 5, 2020
Since we are currently in the midst of a virus outbreak, I thought that this book would be timely. Actually, the virus and accompanying quarantine are pretty much irrelevant in this book. They serve only as a timing device - during quarantine/after quarantine. There is no world building that describes the virus or its impact. The book does have some interesting concepts. Upon death, your consciousness can be transferred to a new android body, of varying technological sophistication. They are programmed to act as loyal companions. However, some become capable of defying their programming.

This could have led to an exploration of philosophical questions, but the book was written in such a garbled fashion that it never really explored anything. The book dealt with a limited group of androids and humans who conveniently all kept encountering each other. Minds could be transferred repeatedly to upgraded vessels, so they were constantly changing names, appearance and gender. I was constantly asking myself “who did you used to be?” I also kept asking myself “remind me, exactly why are you killing this person?” Honestly, it was all pointless.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,036 reviews510 followers
April 20, 2020
'People haven’t yet forgotten what happened, but someday they will— they always do.'

A wonderful experience as a reader is to pick up a book you know little about, and then to be blown away by the reading experience. This happened to with Katie M. Flynn’s rather wonderful The Companions, one of the most affecting novels about androids I have read in a long time.

The book seems to have garnered lukewarm appreciation on Goodreads, which I suspect is due to the fact that not only is it a bit of a slow burn, but its complexly intertwined narrative is told from about eight different viewpoints in alternating chapters. Do not let this put you off though. The book packs a real emotional wallop as the years, and then the decades, pass by.

A devastating virus has resulted in mass deaths, quarantine and closed-off borders, and has also (inevitably) increased the stratification and class divisions that modern society is rife with. Metis – which kind of reminded me of Wallace Corp from Blade Runner – develops what it calls ‘companions’, crude wheeled robot-like structures (though they do evolve into ‘skinjobs’ eventually) into which the dying’s final memories can be downloaded as a last bid for the wealthy to cling desperately to the final vestiges of their loved ones.

Of course, the last thing Metis anticipated was for its ‘companions’ to develop consciousness … Here the key character is Lilac, a V1 upload after being murdered in her teens. Once a companion, she then defies her security programming and embarks on a rather rambling quest to track down her murderer.

Lilac encounters a motley bunch of characters along the way. These include Cam, who works at an old age home (in the book it is referred to as an ‘elder-care facility���); Rolly, a teenager living on a slowly dying farm whose father supplements their income by running a machine that breaks down and incinerates ‘retired’ companions as they’re replaced with the latest models; to Gabe, a stubborn and damaged nine-year-old orphan.

How all these disparate characters are drawn into the arcs of each other’s orbits is what gives this book its gravitas. The centre though is always Lilac, whom we follow from the very inception of the Metis companions, to a point far in the future where they are ultimately deemed a threat to humanity and hence outlawed.

Robots and androids so often get the short end of the stick in science fiction as a handy deus ex machina. It is truly eye-opening to read a book that seriously looks at the ethical and psychosocial ramifications of uploaded consciousness.

Great science fiction is not only about ideas though, but has to have believable characters in order to allow for an immersive, lived-in reality. Flynn takes a risk with her diverse cast, especially a character as young and mercurial as Gabe, but it is a risk that pays off in spades. This is a deceptively ambitious, but hugely successful novel.

Flynn deftly handles a difficult subject matter without coming across as preachy or manipulative. Initially the murder subplot caused a raised eyebrow for me, as I saw the potential for melodrama. But the ultimate resolution of The Companions is as unexpected as it is heart-wrenching.

What I also especially liked about the book is that it wears its genre stripes lightly. It is a real treasure, and a must-read for any fans of good fiction. You do not have to be a science fiction geek to be deeply affected by it.

On the other hand, genre fans will pick up on the references and echoes that point to a larger dialectic about robot consciousness that is a staple of so much SF (a recent example is the Murderbot series by Martha Wells). The Companions is one of my top reads of 2020 thus far.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,088 reviews1,511 followers
April 27, 2020
The Companions by Katie M. Flynn is a dystopian science fiction novel in which the story is told by switching the point of view between multiple characters. While this one is science fiction the world that is built within actually hits a little close to home with our current pandemic situation with the world inside the novel under quarantine after a highly contagious virus outbreak.

With everyone trapped inside after the outbreak folks do tend to get a little bored being alone all the time so a company, Metis, comes up with Companions. Companions are made by downloading the brain of someone who has died into a lifelike robotic body. Of course the rich could keep their family but the poor that are downloaded are sold off to other families to become their companions. One such companion though finds that she can defy the programming and decides she is going to leave her new family to hunt for her killer.

I have to say at the time I actually read this novel our “real” world was still going on as normal and the idea that something like a pandemic could happen didn’t seem real… oh how wrong I was. Now I can see from a different prospective how a company like Metis would be welcomed when hearing all the time how everyone is bored being at home for so long. However, regardless of how realistic the world building now feels the story was one for me that was hard to dive into and really get engaged in which I felt was due to so many different POVs, I believe at least 8 to juggle and track. If you like a busier type of novel though perhaps give this one a go especially after experiencing a locked down society ourselves.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,043 reviews362 followers
February 14, 2020
A dystopian sci-fi novel that is far too close to reality for comfort....

A pandemic sweeps through the US during which quarantines are mandated. Neither the living or the dead are allowed to leave. There are people trapped in towers who are both stir-crazy and lonely. Metis, a tech company, comes to the rescue with “companions.” Download the brain with all of its electrical currents, memories, and emotions, into a robotic body – some with skin for a more human like touch. These creations are pre-programmed not to harm or do violence and to operate only at the command of their human. One such “companion” – Lilac – goes off track when she learns that she is to be scrapped. Setting out on her own, she is in search of the person who murdered her human form.

Admittedly, this one of the strangest pieces of fiction that I’ve read in a long time. When I began reading I wasn’t sure if I liked it or would finish the book. But then I became invested in Lilac as she hops from body to body. We’re then introduced to more characters, some human and some are companions. Each of the stories seemed to be unrelated – until they weren’t. Going further into the book I realized that each of these “stories” was interconnected and relevant to the others. By the end of the book, I was all in and couldn’t believe how it ended, or possibly I knew how it would end before I even began reading.

What was so startling about The Companions is on this day, as I finished reading and am now writing this review, I’m listening on the news about quarantines being set up all over the world on the brink of what could be the early days of a Pandemic. In tandem, there is tech news about the first fully functioning AI who is frighteningly quite human. In light of those things, The Companions seemed more current events than “sci-fi.”

This is NOT a book for everyone. It is, however, one of the best dystopian tales that I’ve read in ages. It’s also a great sci-fi experience that does not involve other galaxies, fantasy or world building. If you do not like dystopian fiction or science fiction, then you will not enjoy this book. However, if you like new, different, quirky, dark reads then I can recommend The Companions 100%.
Profile Image for MaryannC. Fiendish Book freak.
485 reviews106 followers
July 20, 2020
3.5 stars
Snuck this in with the other books I am currently reading because I just had to read it. I normally do not venture into Sci-fi which I ashamed to say because I'm probably missing out on some great reads but I enjoyed this. I liked the story line of this world set into the near future of human beings who die but end up having a chance to relive uploading their consciousness into machined bodies that look human. What was dead on about this was the story line involves a quarantine that eerily mirrors our own present day pandemic which the author couldn't have foreseen since this debuted in March of this year and the author already had this completed beforehand. It was a dark, engrossing read with different POVS that intertwine with one another. I would have given this 4 stars but the ending fell a little flat for me.
Profile Image for Sarah.
602 reviews144 followers
March 1, 2020
3.5 stars really. It’s a jumbled mess but I mostly enjoyed the narrative. Those last chapters need a rewrite though. Way too confusing.
Profile Image for Doug.
1,934 reviews669 followers
August 19, 2020
Having read a recent article in the SF Chronicle about how prescient and timely this book is, tackling a pandemic quarantine in The City, I thought it might prove intriguing in this shelter-at-home period. Unfortunately, the quarantine set-up is abandoned rather quickly and the majority of the book concerns what happens AFTER such.

Although the novel moved quickly, the author has this annoying habit of withholding vital information until 20 or 30 pages AFTER having that knowledge would have helped you understand what was happening - so that by the time the knowledge nugget drops, you have to backtrack to figure out what you've been reading the last half hour.

Given that, and the eight different narrators (all of whom, infuriatingly, sound EXACTLY alike), who switch bodies, gender and identities frequently, it becomes well-nigh impossible to keep the narrative straight ... and you basically give up CARING. To add insult to injury, the author also bee-bops about in time, so that you then have to try to slot in the frequent flash forwards and flashbacks into what you already know and DON'T know - it really takes far too much effort than it's worth.

It's really a shame, as there's a kernel of a really interesting story, and some ponderable philosophical questions raised - although the whole uploading of a soon-to-be-dead consciousness to be a companion to those left behind was handled much better five years ago in Jordan Harrison's Pulitzer finalist Marjorie Prime{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SccmZ...} A better editor MIGHT have been able to help the author shape this into a readable success - as it is, it's a missable mess.

PS to compare it to STATION ELEVEN and NEVER LET ME GO is ludicrous...it isn't nearly as good as either!
Profile Image for Elaine.
1,513 reviews1 follower
December 19, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Companions.

I'm not an avid reader of sci-fi dystopian but I was excited when my request was approved because...Hello! Robots! Who doesn't love 'em and who isn't waiting for them to go nuts?

** Minor spoilers ahead **

The premise is a strong but familiar one; after a virus has decimated most of the population, survivors are sequestered in their homes.

The wealthy have one reprieve, the ability to upload their consciousness before death into a 'companion.' The rest are not so lucky.

Readers are introduced to Lilac, a rare companion because she is a First Gen model, which means she's not like all the others. She has a purpose. To find the person who murdered her when she was human.

Now that pulled me in right away: a sci-fi mystery with an unusual protagonist set in a post-apocalyptic environment?

Count me in!

The chapters started off strong, but something got lost along the way.

First, there was a lack of world building.

How did this virus affect the population? Where did it start?

Who is Metis, this multinational corporation that owns the 'companions?'

What kind of hate and fear does a companion engender when meeting humans?

Can a companion and human fall in love?

Second, there are one too many characters, which is a tricky endeavor, regardless of genre.

I think the author wanted to offer a range of POVs that all have a stake in the business of the companions but this was hard to sustain because I never felt connected to anyone and I forgot who was who and what their purpose of the story was. Why should I care about their particular perspective?

The many POVs bogged down the momentum of the story, when it should have made me want to keep reading.

Third, years pass and tumultuous events happen off page so when they are referred to by a character, the emotional impact is lost.

Readers lack exposition and context as to why a particular character is acting this way or headed to a certain destination.

There was so much potential with this premise; the world building, the character development, the mystery behind Lilac's death, the bond between companions and humans, the fear and hate some humans would have for these companions and the existential questions they would pose: does a companion have a soul?

The writing is good, but the lack of a cohesive narrative and strong characters made The Companions a disjointed and unsympathetic read.
Profile Image for Chelsey (a_novel_idea11).
430 reviews129 followers
October 8, 2019
Set in the future on the west coast of the United States, Companions have been created and leased into the mass market. Companions are machines that are given human consciousness - the human consciousness of a formerly living person. The Companions vary in quality, some being a little more than a tin can and others looking and seeming human to the untrained eye. They are “command driven” and allegedly have safeguards in place to limit their abilities and keep them from rebelling or harming their human hosts.

At the same time we meet Lilac, a companion, we learn that California is in a state of quarantine. Scientists developed and unleashed a series of unnamed viruses that have wreaked havoc on the human race and terrified the remaining people.

Because companions are created from human consciousness, many of the companions can remember their own deaths. Lilac is one such companion and she knows she was murdered. Defying her programming, Lilac travels the coast to find and confront her murderer.

The novel spans years - toward the end of the quarantine to a decade later. We see how the companions shift from a commodity to something the wealthy choose to do to themselves in order to stay “young” forever.

We’re introduced to many characters, many companions in many forms, and many storylines. Most feel overall forgettable and only briefly seem to intersect with the others but perhaps this was intentional to create more of a manufactured, machine feel.

Overall, I found the premise incredibly intriguing. I’ve never read anything like this and I can envision it becoming a future Black Mirror episode. However, for much of the novel I felt confused by the author’s vagueness, over abundance of characters introduced way too late, and the numerous, undeveloped storylines.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Cher.
800 reviews274 followers
March 24, 2020
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

An interesting concept within an extremely boring book that struggled to hold my interest. It's less than 300 pages but it felt like it was twice that length.
First Sentence: Dahlia reclines on her bed during her regularly scheduled break, inspecting her hair for split ends.
Profile Image for Laura.
62 reviews57 followers
June 13, 2020
This was the third book that involves a major life altering pandemic that I’ve read during this real pandemic and like the other two, when I picked it up I had no idea that’s what it was about. I wonder what that says about me... or perhaps, I don’t want to know!

In this book the pandemic is more background than focus. All we know is that multiple pandemics have caused the world to go into quarantine for an extended period of time so people make ‘companions’ to keep them company. And if you can’t guess what happens when people and robots mix, you need to watch/read more robot/AI movies/books... or ask Arnold Schwarzenegger how it goes.

This one is a bit different than your typical machines vs. humanity book though because the companions aren’t actually AI, they’re the consciousness of humans that have been uploaded into these robots before they died. But like most robot movies/books, they’re treated poorly and seen as subhuman. They’re owned by humans, and used to raise their children or to serve them. And by now, we should all know how well that works out.

The story is very discombobulated at times, jumping from character to character and missing chunks of time. But as you read you see how each character ties together and can mostly intuit what’s happened during the missing time. I can see where this style of writing won’t work for every reader and I struggled with my rating. In the end I decided on 3.75 stars as I did enjoy the story. It ends a bit abruptly and is confusing at times but about half way through I couldn’t put it down. This one won’t be for everyone but I’m glad I read it! But let’s be honest, shouldn’t we have learned by now that the machines will always turn on us? I have, I’m afraid of Alexa and Siri!

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-so-bad-it-hurts'
October 4, 2018
THIS SOUNDS SO GOOD. An uploaded consciousness able to defy commands goes in search of her murderer, damn
Profile Image for Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows).
1,536 reviews318 followers
March 5, 2020
The premise is absolutely intriguing and I can see something like this happening in our future... and quite frankly, it terrifies me. Sadly though, this book just did NOT work for me.

The synopsis tells us about this deadly contagion that happens where now people are in quarantine... but the dead can come back in the form of "companions". The book touches on socio-economic status, human rights and the thought of human souls/thoughts, etc. being buried in a machine to "live on forever". But these all seem, weirdly, like a small portion of the book that quite honestly, didn't really go in any direction.

With a vast array of characters, only a few of which stayed within the length of the novel, they're all a bit underdeveloped and there's no true mainstay within the plot itself based on the synopsis given. Almost seeming like little short stories within the novel of different characters, slightly veering back to a couple main ones to try and make it cohesive.. and it just doesn't quite flow.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,409 reviews492 followers
March 26, 2022
When I saw The Companions by Katie M. Flynn being compared to Station Eleven I knew I had to read it, and now that I have, I am left feeling very unsure about it. I don't really think it matches up to Station Eleven very well besides the fact that these are both dystopian-type novels, and the virus in The Companions sounds suspiciously like Covid. I did enjoy the unique storyline since I haven't read anything quite like this before. The companions themselves did remind me a little bit of a different book I read, but still definitely different and I found the concept super interesting. I really liked Flynn's writing style and think this is a solid debut, but it did tend to get confusing at times.

I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by multiple people - Michael Crouch, Ramón de Ocampo, Hillary Huber, Erin Moon, Rebekkah Ross, Candace Thaxton, Jesse Vilinsky & Emily Woo Zeller. I loved the audio and all of the different narrators and thought it was done really well. I also don't think any of my confusion came from the audiobook, but the writing itself. I thought it started out really strong, but by the time I got to the end, I was a little lost and wondering what the ultimate point of the story was. If you like science fiction and speculative fiction, I would still recommend checking out The Companions though. If Flynn does put out a sophomore novel, and I hope she does, I will definitely be reading it.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,004 reviews2,596 followers
April 21, 2020
2 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/04/19/...

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn gave me mixed feelings after I finished it. Even now, I find myself struggling to put my thoughts into words, but it’s probably clear from my rating this book wasn’t for me.

Set in the near future, in a dystopic quarantined California amidst a deadly virus, the story begins with an introduction to two seemingly average friends, Lilac and Dahlia, though pretty soon the full explanation behind their complicated relationship is revealed. Welcome to a world where death doesn’t always mean the end. New technology has made it possible to transfer the minds of the recently deceased into robot bodies, creating “companions” for survivors of the virus, now under lockdown and unable to venture outside their sealed towers. Some companions stay with their families, while others are sold or rented to the general public, for purposes ranging from caretaking to sexual slavery. The point is, they are considered property, denied the basic rights of human beings because they are believed to be bound to their programming. Lilac, for example, had been acquired by Dahlia’s mother to serve her daughter, yet the two girls sometimes end up sharing stories into the night.

But from recounting details from her life before her death and the outbreak, Lilac starts to remember more about what happened to her—like the fact she was murdered—as well as the people she used to know, such as her beloved childhood friend Nikki. Escaping the wrath of Dahlia’s mother, Lilac sets out to find answers hoping they will also lead to Nikki, thus kicking off a narrative that explores the past and future, spanning time and geography while featuring numerous other characters from a wide range of backgrounds.

Since we’re in the middle of a pandemic-driven shutdown of our own right now, I thought it would be fun to torture myself by picking up a book about a virus outbreak and quarantine, but instead this one proved painful to read for all kinds of other reasons. I guess I just don’t do well with fractured rambling stories, which pretty much describes The Companions trying to cram multiple books’ worth of content into a mere 272 pages. The result is a convoluted mess filled with characters who inspired no emotional connection, and they were lucky if I could even remember their names for this review. The fact that many of them made so little impact tells you more than needs to be said about their development. While the writing wasn’t bad, and even shines through with a lyrical gem every now and then, the problem was in the story’s style and structure and how awkwardly its different parts came together.

Granted, the concept behind the book was interesting, but speaking as someone who has been reading sci-fi and dystopian fiction for years, I found nothing new and innovative here that would make me drop everything and pick up The Companions over other books that address a lot of the same themes and topics. So many the world-building elements felt incidental or just tacked on, like the entire quarantine aspect. Again, this appears to stem from a failure to bring everything in the story together in a way that captured my imagination, and it’s a shame because there’s actually a lot of potential in the setting and premise.

My final thoughts? Even with its familiar and well-trodden themes, I think The Companions could have added a lot to the genre if it hadn’t tried to do too much or if we’d been given more time to explore the characters and their relationships through the decades covered in this book. Instead, the way things came across felt too convenient and disorienting, and that in turn reduced the story’s emotional impact. Overall, I confess I came away more confused than satisfied, but others may do better with it if they can keep up with the plot and characters. There are good ideas here, the writing is decent and I wanted to like this book, but sadly things just didn’t come together for me.
Profile Image for Nancy.
176 reviews80 followers
February 23, 2020
I thought this was an interesting story and concept of the dead’s consciousness being uploaded into basically a computer and given a body then sent to live with either their own families or to people that request to have a companion. Sort of reminded me of AI becoming sentient beings. The story is told from 8 different viewpoints, some companions and the people they interact with. The reader gets a good sense of the challenges of the companion program, how different people feel about companions, how the companions feel about being companions. It is a relatively short book yet it spans around ten years. It was a very quick read and it gets the point across without a lot of extra “fluff.” I received an advance copy from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Never Without a Book.
468 reviews100 followers
April 1, 2020
This dystopian novel really gave me Never Let Me Go vibes. The concept is so creepy. I LIKED IT!
Profile Image for Mike.
377 reviews92 followers
November 16, 2019
This book has a good premise, and parts of it are quite good, but it doesn't quite gel into a coherent whole.

The basic idea here is that a megacoroporation figures out a way to upload people's minds into computers upon death, and those minds are then put into robot bodies (of varying quality depending on how much one is willing to pay). Consciousness remains. Sounds great, right? Except that the "people" are regarded as the intellectual property of the megacorp, and are leased to living caretakers. Their mental capacity is controlled by their processing speed, and the bodies range from trash cans on wheels to full replicants. None of whom have any rights or any more legal status than a piece of software.

Where this all goes is fairly predictable. The main storyline follows one person who is able to throw off the programmed command restraints on her and go off on her own. Topics addressed, to varying degrees, include hardware problems, imperfect data transfers, what it is like to be a conscious mind WITHOUT a body, what stops the megacorp from uploading a copy of a mind of someone who's NOT dead (absolutely nothing), what stops them from copying the mind of someone who's been uploaded (again, absolutely nothing).

But there's also a plague and massive quarantine that seems completely irrelevant, and all sorts of side characters that get introduced and never explored. Like I said, parts of it were good, but on the whole it just didn't add up to anything special.

I've said it before, but I think more authors need to try not writing a novel so much as a series of vignettes. When I stopped trying to follow the central storyline, and treated this book as a series episodes devoid of context, it worked better.
Profile Image for Beth Tabler.
Author 5 books155 followers
February 25, 2020
I received a copy of this from Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for my open and honest review.

Katie M. Flynn's newest story, The Companions, is described as a dystopic combination of "Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living." However, The Companions never hits the mark with either comparison.

The story is about a world that has been destroyed by a crafted, highly contagious virus. California is under massive quarantine, people cannot go outside or interact with other people for fear of contamination. Right from the start, this isn't a new idea. This kind of isolationism is widespread in science fiction. Humans are social creatures, and we start to act funny and do odd things when cut off from society. The dead can come into homes, however, in the form of "companionship." A deceased persons mind, intellect, and memories are downloaded in storage and uploaded into a new robot if "the company" deems it fit. This leads to so many questions that break the plausibility of this story. Why would a company be given so much power and ownership of what amounts to people's souls? What about this virus? What did it do? Why are some people outside, but seemingly ok? Is the virus a lie? and so on...

"Wealthy participants in the "companionship" program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families." This class system stratification could have opened up a ton of exciting avenues for the story, the wealthy versus the poor, where the wealthy love forever. But, it came off as more of a footnote—a bit of backstory rather than a propelling narrative for the plot.

"Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she's able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her."

The premise, at least in the blurb, is solid with this story. We have disharmony between societal classes, a vast plague that disrupts social norms, people stuck in machines, and more, which is why it saddened me around the 50% mark to see that this story was not going to go anywhere.

What was written where a series of character vignettes.

Each of the vignettes is interesting and well written on their own, but taken as a whole are an incohesive story. The characters that were very strong to start with, get lost. There is no real character that I could call a true protagonist. The story jumps in time and events with rapidity, but the reader is never given a chance to eternalize why some events are important and why others are not. What we end up with is a substantial character and emotional series of stories that take place in the same world, and might have some connecting thread between them, but not much else.

The Companions started so strong, the writing was excellent, but the lack of cohesive narrative and worldbuilding leave it muddy.
Profile Image for Tonya.
531 reviews106 followers
March 9, 2020
I was very excited to read The Companions by Katie M. Flynn. Told from several perspectives, the book focuses on The Companions who live to entertain and serve households that are under quarantine for a nasty plague in San Francisco. The idea of uploading human consciousness so that families can keep their family member with them after they pass away was intriguing. I think the hardest part of processing this book was realizing how much the actual dying part stayed with The Companions.

The book did not flow well for me, I felt it was disjointed. Perhaps maybe more editing so that the book makes more sense. There were times when I felt like I was lost or had missed chapters, then later there were times when I was like oh so now we meet this character again.. I would really love to read the story again once it is edited so that the story has better transitions and flow. The concepts of the overall story of the book hold promise of a good read and the characters are intriguing.

Thank you to NetGalley, author Katie M Flynn, and Gallery/ Scout Press for a digital advanced reader copy for me to read and enjoy. As always, my opinions are my own
April 28, 2020
The Companions

📚 𝗛𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀! I finished reading 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 by Katie M. Flynn. This science-fiction book has great elements: AI intelligence, pandemic outbreak, prejudice, violence, revenge, and the desire to survive. I was hoping for a novel like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (a.k.a. Blade Runner) or I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. It came close but did not hit the bullseye. It was a solid story, but the delivery was confusing. The ending brought everything together and save the story.

#poodles #poodlestagram #poodlesofinstagram #furbabies #dogsofinstagram #bookstagram #dogsandbooks #bookishlife #bookishlove #bookstagrammer #book #books #booklover #bookish #bookaholic #reading #readersofinstagram #instaread #ilovebooks #bookishcanadians #canadianbookstagram #bookreviewer #bookcommunity #bibliophile #bookphotography #thecompanions #katiemflynn #bookreview
476 reviews1 follower
December 30, 2019
Sadly I expected so much more from this novel. The premise of this debut novel of Katie Flynn alone earns a 3 Star rating ... however, the execution leaves me with a hollow feeling. Humanity has always searched for immortality ... although not possible physically the possibility of digital immortality is extremely tantalizing.. The Metis Corporation has developed the technology to upload the brain digitally at the time of death ... not only the memories and data are retained but also miraculously the individual's consciousness, as well. The "digital individual" is then housed in various forms of varying sophistication of androids/ robots. Originally, it was planned that this process would be under the control of the family ... naturally this process is corrupted and the "companionship" program is born. The Metis Corporation maintains control of the intellectual property of the digital mind ... and can duplicate any number of copies for leasing purposes to the "well paying caretakers" ... hence the development of nannies, lovers, and a myriad of other situations., The digital mind is command driven and has no free will ... virtually creating a new form of slavery. This revolutionary development of technology occurs in the setting of world wide plague from a mutating virus..
The narrative does not flow and is disjointed and is filled with multiple characters ... who frankly I didn't really care about. The chapters and extremely long and circuitous. There is no developing tension or mystery. I really had hoped so much more ... the premise is not expanded in a very interesting fashion.. Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery / Scout Press for providing an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review. (readersremains.com)
Profile Image for Dana.
666 reviews9 followers
February 21, 2020
The Companions is Katie M. Flynn's debut novel.

The premise of The Companions is intriguing. A highly contagious virus. The dead, who come in l forms - from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies. A companionship program where the wealthy can upload their consciousness before dying. Sounds good right?

Unfortunately this just didn't work for me. While I very much enjoyed the idea of the plot I didn't find it well executed. It was difficult to follow, with the introduction of so many new characters throughout the story I was often flipping back to see who was who. The storyline itself was very undeveloped which was disappointing because the premise was so strong. I found I was left questioning many things. Where the virus started, how it affected the population? Who exactly Metis was? Among other questions I'm sure will transpire in the coming days...

Overall this one just wasn't for me.

Huge thank you to Simon and Schuster for my review copy!
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,608 reviews159 followers
February 17, 2020
This read almost like a long streaming conscious - not my favorite writing style. You are introduce into a world quickly. Your first timeframe is with a small girl and her mom. The mom doesn't trust you and you learn some of the world but also the people through this first story. The stories go on like this, giving you tidbits of time and information. They overlap and seem to want to teach you about being human and defining what that means. But it wasn't written in a style I enjoyed. I found myself easily distracted and, once the story was lost, I began to forget time frames and the current inhabitant of it. I lost their connections and quickly found myself bored. I wish I'd liked it more but this one just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Danielle.
790 reviews387 followers
April 17, 2020
This book was a trip. A virus results in a social quarantine (sound familiar?... LOL). But you add to that the idea that you can live forever as a machine. There are a lot of characters, each with their own story- that connects back to one character. Overall it was kinda jumbled and a bit hard to follow. This is a strange time in life, to read a book like this (thank you COVID-19). The machine context was pretty intriguing. I want to thank @goodreads, @katie_m_flynn and @scoutpressbooks for this Advance Reader’s Edition of The Companions. #goodreadsgiveaway
Profile Image for Maudaevee.
448 reviews37 followers
November 3, 2019
From the description I thought I would love this but it was a rough read. I think it was a very good idea and that it just needed a lot more working, it read a bit like an outline/rough draft. I will definitely keep an eye out for future works by this author though.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,906 reviews1,232 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
March 8, 2020
What, I come out as trans and suddenly I’m DNFing books like I don’t have a care in the world? Who even am I??

The Companions unfortunately continues my NetGalley slump. Despite being provided this lovely free review eARC, I could not bring myself to finishing Katie M. Flynn’s story of a robot with the brain of a dead girl on a journey to self-actualization. I think I got about 15% of the way through before I realized … I don’t care.

There is no centre to this book. Lilac is ostensibly the main character, but for the 15% I read, I never felt connected to her. If we’re supposed to feel sorry for the companions and how they’ve been treated, fine, sure, ok I guess. I can do that. But feel invested in Lilac’s particular journey? Not really. The cover copy of this book makes it sound like some intense dystopian fiction where Lilac knows she’s a real girl but everyone else thinks she’s just a mindless drone running on some repurposed wetware. In reality, this story is just very dull.

The other characters are … ugh. The mother at the beginning is just a broad-strokes stereotype with very little going for her. Even Dahlia doesn’t seem to exist as much more than a foil for Lilac.

Could not get into it. Really don’t want to put myself through, if some other reviews are accurate, what is actually a very twisty-turny plot. So, to the DNF shelf you go!
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