Book Review: Anyone by Charles Soule (ARC)

Anyone

Author: Charles Soule

Publication Date: 03 December 2019

Genre: Adult Fiction – Science Fiction

Pages: 400

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Charles Soule brings his signature knowledge—and wariness–of technology to his sophomore novel set in a realistic future about a brilliant female scientist who creates a technology that allows for the transfer of human consciousness between bodies, and the transformations this process wreaks upon the world.

Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…

Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose – sex, drugs, crime… or worse.

Anyone masterfully interweaves the present-day story of the discovery and development of the flash with the gritty tale of one woman’s crusade to put an end to the darkness it has brought to the world twenty-five years after its creation. Like Blade Runner crossed with Get Out, Charles Soule’s thought-provoking work of speculative fiction takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide.

As soon as I found out that the main character was a female Ph.D. scientist, I needed a copy of Anyone like my life depended on it. And that synopsis? This girl was sold.

Dr. Gabrielle “Gabby” White is a Ph.D./M.D. cognitive neurologist who is desperately trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Following the birth of her daughter Kat, Gabby decided to stay home and pursue her research by converting her barn into a state of the art lab, which is privately funded by Hendricks Capital while Paul continues his tenure track position as a music composition professor. Gabby finally reaches her breaking point when the funds for her research is essentially depleted, and she has no groundbreaking results to show for. In a last ditch effort, she uses the last of the funds for one final experiment…one where she ends up transferring her consciousness to Paul and controlling his body. With this incredible breakthrough, Gabby must find a way to hone this technology as well as hide it from the greedy hands of Hendricks Capital.

Fast forward 25 years, and the flash technology that Gabby developed has become ubiquitous in society. People can pay to transfer their consciousness to anyone at anytime, and it is 100% legal. As with all “good” things, the black market finds a way to exploit this technology by giving rise to darkshare dens. These are places where people can rent bodies for all matters of insidious activity…for a price, of course.

During that time, Annami would be unaware, and her rider could use her body for whatever he or she wanted, anything at all. Drugs, sex, crime…anything. – Anyone

The chapters alternate between Gabby and the development of the flash technology and 25 years in the future, which follows our other main character, Annami. I was completely enthralled with Gabby’s timeline for constructing this technology and the science behind it. I’ll be honest, I definitely had several science nerd moments. There were times that I could wholeheartedly relate to Gabby as a scientist who has been caught up in the grunt work of research and both the highs and lows that you experience. That being said, I also enjoyed Annami’s timeline and the consequences of the world that was forged following the implementation of the flash technology. We are always in search of cures to so many different ailments and diseases, but that future gives a glimpse of what could potentially happen when science crosses a line that society isn’t ready for.

I absolutely tore through this book and read it in one sitting. The pacing of this story was spot on, and I honestly couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This multifaceted story focuses on so many important topics such as race, identity, ethics, and morality; just to name a few. There were so many twists and turns throughout the story, and the way the two timelines come together was spectacular.

Overall, Anyone is a masterfully written and compelling sci-fi thriller that takes you on a wild ride. I honestly can’t recommend this one enough!

Thank you to Harper Perennial for providing an ARC for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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