Bookish Banter- Ian McEwan's Machines Like Me

Recently Julie from JulzReads and I both read and virtually discussed Ian McEwan's latest, Machines Like Me, a sci-fi love triangle that asks some serious questions regarding humanity and society. She and I have been blogger friends for years and years, so this truly was a long time coming and I'm sad we live half a continent apart and can't meet up in person (some day, some day). Read on to see what our thoughts were:

Julz: Considering we both went into this with pretty low expectations, I think we both enjoyed it.  Because the man can write!  I thought his character development was great.  Even as a robot, Adam was a dynamic figure.  What did you like best about it?

Christine:    I agree, I really didn’t have high hopes. It’s sort of the same with how I feel about Metallica- their old stuff is where it’s at and recent attempts seem to fall pretty flat. That being said, once this picked up momentum I was totally into it!

I think one of my favorite parts about the book was this idea of how we define personhood, and whether or not that definition is fluid. Do our definitions need to evolve as science does? The juxtaposition of this sort of innovative scientific perception of consciousness versus the traditional sort of political component of the story, as well as the quintessential “Adam/Eve” naming, was also well-done. I loved how he took so much liberty with history and science in his timeline. 

Julz: That is such an English teacher response!  And your feelings about Metallica match my feelings about Dave Matthew’s Band.

I think my favorite aspect was the whole Alan Turing alternate history thing.  What a world it would have been had he lived!

The night Adam went missing and the Prime Minister was assassinated, I was convinced Adam was the culprit for a few pages there.  Did that at all cross your mind?

Christine:  I never even thought about Adam being involved, but I totally see how they would have crossed your mind

Julz: How did you feel about Miranda taking justice into her own hands with Miriam's rapist? 

Christine:  I had really mixed feelings about Miranda’s actions, as well as Adam’s, which of course was McEwan’s intent. At the end of the day, I appreciate the orderliness of law/rules, and I think that if we don’t adhere to some sort of process society would become even more chaotic. But it bothered me deeply that he’d get away with raping and hence causing a suicide- the abhorrent misogynistic act of this sort of violation is never permissible. Her vigilante way of taking care of it was a risk, and I think she handled it well. I just wish there had been another way to honestly bring about justice in her friend’s name.

I found myself often annoyed with Charlie, his work ethic, his lackadaisical approach to the slightly-frightening robot living in his house (although I get it; Adam became more and more human-like, therefore harder and harder to easily turn off), etc... What were your thoughts on his character?

Julz:  In some ways I could relate to Charlie it two respects: getting by in life with minimal effort and true love being his driving force.  But I would have taken advantage of Adam as a slave way more than he did.  That’s right, bitch, I’m never doing the dinner dishes again and my house will always be immaculately clean.  Why spend so much money on Adam if you’re still going to do your own washing up?

Otherwise, I thought he was pretty harmless.  I didn’t feel strongly about his character one way or another, but I did enjoy witnessing him falling in love and how that matured him.

Christine:  Also, what did you make of McEwan’s use of the little boy, Mark? I thought it was an interesting, useful little side-plot. 

Julz:  I hate to see kids born into bad situations.  Mark’s parents were garbage and that was no fault of his.  So the idea that Miranda and Charlie could be his saviors was really moving.  And it was a sub-plot I was not expecting.

I had SO much fun doing this and I can't wait to do it again, hopefully later this year!  

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