Everything About You by Heather Child

ecstatic_yet_chaotic's review

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|3.5 stars|

I am not a huge fan of technology, but the whole virtual assistant thing made me ask for this book. When you think about it, it can really be a wonderful thriller, with a hidden person feeding information etc.
Freya is thrilled about her new virtual assistant, a bot who knows everything about her, the information being fed via a cloud. Freya has one weakness- her dead sister. As the virtual assistant slowly turns herself into Freya’s dead sister, Freya starts to believe that her sister exists, especially because the assistant knows things more than it should know.
While Freya is the protagonist, the plot is driven mainly by the virtual assistant, who FYI, is super creepy. But then as the story progresses, Freya takes the center stage as it is her who has an unbearable loss and is looking for a closure.
Everything About You has a promising writing. There’s a plot with twists, characters who are engaging and there’s a visible development. I, however, felt that something was always missing. The ending was quite predictable and I read it only because of the world building and the sci-fi aspect, which was pretty decent.
Everything About You is a techno-thriller that has a chilling premise, complex relationships, and a downright creepy virtual assistant.

nietzschesghost's review

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I am a real sucker for thrillers with a technological edge to them so when this novel appeared on NetGalley I couldn't resist! The synopsis is what drew me in initially as it sounded like my perfect cup of tea! As the world of technology advances and brands continues to flourish more and more books are using tech as inspiration for some fabulous thrillers based wholly or in part on Twitter, Facebook, the dark web, dating agencies etc. One recent title being Friend Request by Laura Marshall, a book based on the protagonist receiving a friend request on Facebook from a girl she believed to be dead.

So, did it live up to my high expectations? Yes, apart from some minor points it most certainly did. What intrigued me further about this one was that it was set in a future where virtual assistants map every inch of your life. This speculative tech intertwines with Freya's search for her missing sister and soon the lines between fiction and reality blur into one.

I can't get enough of this niche and hope that many more titles continue to draw inspiration from the tech world. Everything You Know is believeable speculative fiction that may soon be anything but speculative given the rate of our advancements. It's a rather scary thought!

An intelligent and thoroughly engaging techno-thriller that is well written and plotted. Imaginitive, creepy and emotionally resonant - feelings that are more varied than most books can manage. A great debut from Heather Child, I loved it! In the authors bio it states she is a "communications professional whose work on digital marketing has brought her into close contact with the cutting-edge automation and personalisation technologies that herald the 'big data' age". I would imagine that this experience and knowledge has helped to make the book sound and I hope that the author will continue to use her expertise to write in a similar vein in the future.


I would like to thank Little Brown Book Group, Heather Child and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

helensbookshelf's review

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I loved the idea behind the story and the way that it takes the tech we have today and extrapolates it all just that little bit into what we might have tomorrow!

It made it feel very realistic and relatable, like a world I'm excited to see. If anyone remembers Tomorrow's World on the BBC, it made me think of that a lot while I was reading it (spaghetti plants aside).

Part of the story is that Freya is struggling to find her own space in the world and I get that, it just felt like she didn't understand, and didn't care to understand, basic things about how society works. She was so clueless it was hard to fully grasp the world and how it worked. It was like she’d just been dumped there and was a stranger herself. As the reader we learn the world through the characters and because Freya didn't understand her world it made me feel lost, like basic parts of the plotline were passing me by.

As an example, Freya goes on a date she's arranged online and 8 men turn up. She is confused and scared by it but after discussions with her virtual assistant appears to eventually grasp the situation - I never did.

But the more I think about the book after I've read it the more I like it. It makes important points about living in an echo chamber, how we need to be careful about passing off control of our own lives, and how much authority we give to artificial voices programmed to guess at what we might want.

I loved the storyline and the tech and I had a lot of sympathy for Freya but I felt like it was hard to get a grasp on the world. It stopped it from being a truly immersive book for me.

prosewhore's review

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I got a chance to read this book thank's to Netgalley.
This thriller came out just a couple days ago and I hope it will get the success it deserves !!

I dived into the book not really knowing what to expect. I read a lot of thrillers but none of them are set in a futuristic, tech crazy version of our world and I am not a huge science fiction fan. But Oh what a pleasant surprise this story was.

Freya is a young woman unable to live her life to the fullest as she is haunted by the memory of her foster sister, Ruby, who disappeared without a trace years ago. She is gifted this device that is supposed to improve her productivity and help her take decisions, but when she tries it out for the first time she is taken aback, the persona and voice randomly generated by the gadget is based of non other than Ruby's data. The device starts to mentions newer things the real Ruby could have never known about if she were dead. If Ruby is alive and producing data still, the device could be picking it up and Freya could well be adressing an "older version" of her sister she loves so. The hope that she might be hiding off somewhere is rekindled in Freya and it obsesses her more and more..

If this absorbing and moving novel is the author's first then I am dying to see what she will next come up with ! I loved Freya's character, she is a relatable twenty something and having personally experienced death in my family fairly early on in life I can understand her constant questioning and the unnecessary blame she puts on herself. Despite that aspect of her history and the trauma it caused her, she remains driven, the problem being the only path she wants to follow is one that would lead her to Ruby. But is it truly possible that Ruby hid away for years with cameras and face recognition technology everywhere ? Could this quest be more dangerous than Freya ever thought ? And is this technology driven world as enticing as it first seems to be ?

Heather Child perfectly encapsulated what being a young adult in such a fast paced world feels like, except this one is much more scary than ours !!
I'm afraid you will have to read the book if you want to know any more ;)
But I can promise an entertaining and imaginative read you won't want to put down!

bethanmay's review

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I read Everything About You recently for my book club - but it was a title I'd put in our jar [we put suggestions of what to read in a jar, and each month we choose a new one] after being gifted a copy from Orbit Books through the Swansea Blogger Collective.

It's fair to say it had a very mixed reception in the group; personally, I always think these are the best kinds of books for creating a lively discussion.

Now, I quite enjoyed Everything About You - I've given it four stars - but unfortunately other reactions in the group ranged from feeling ambivalent about it ('It was ok I guess') to actively disliking it and DNF'ing it.

I have some theories here.

This book is marketed as something like a Black Mirror-esque thriller. The teaser on the back of the hard back exclaims:

Discover this year's most cutting-edge thriller - before it discovers you.

The cover is quite striking, in a dark and Matrix-like way, and I thought the woman looked somewhat vulnerable.

Although these elements, to a certain degree, were in place, this story was not the edge-of-your-seat, high-jeopardy psychological thriller we were led to believe it was.

I was relieved. I hate those things. Therefore I enjoyed it. My mostly thriller-loving fellow book clubbers - not so much.

Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into the story because of the tense; it's third person present tense, with quite a few flips into past tense as something from the protagonist's past is related. Although difficult at first to get used to, this third person narrative did give a sense of the voyeuristic, of being intrusive; paired with the immediacy of present tense, it really put me in mind of social media and being told what all your friends are doing right now this minute look here.

So having consolidated myself to the tense, I was able to enjoy all the other clever little quirks to this book. The story is set in the near future, and I really enjoyed how Child projected our current society and tech use into her own future. Little things, like adjustments to language - "I really rated it/it's rated" instead of "I really liked it/it's great" - cemented this world in my mind and made it believable. Likewise the character development was so subtle - some of the members of my book group argued the characters were flat, but I disagree. I felt like I had a good sense of Freya, and I really picked up on not just the changes in her as the story progressed, but those in her friend Chris also. It was that kind of second-hand awareness, like noticing a friend is posting a lot of pictures of hillsides lately so maybe they've taken up hiking...

I enjoyed the plot, but again I think this was more of a story about a girl coming to terms with loss and battling through a mental health crisis, rather than a mystery or a thriller. There is an element of mystery, there is a drive to discover what happened to someone, Freya is motivated by this belief; but it just didn't feel like the all-consuming star of the show that this kind of thing usually is in thriller books. I was quite surprised when the story took a Ready Player One kind of turn

My one criticism of this book was that it sometimes felt like the author got a little carried away by the tech. I can absolutely see the representation of how technology is becoming more and more integrated into everything we do, and how having such a heavy focus on it here mirrored that growing obsessive need. There were some moments that really made you stop and think, for example the way Freya's glasses modified what she saw and hid homeless people from view. Or the magnificent metaphor of her damp and mouldy walls (I don't want to go into that one further, because it might faintly spoil something, but again it was this notion of what we're using technology to plaster over and hide.) However, by the time I got to the end of the book, it felt like the plot was secondary to the various different bits of technology. Like a sci-fi novel of old, written to explore a scientific theory, the focus felt more on the various gadgets and apps and their influence on the characters. I think it was because of this, that the final resolution lacked the punch you would normally expect to get. 

Like I said, this was my only criticism, albeit it was a major criticism for the other members of my group. It certainly made me think about our current dependency on the internet and social media, how easily things are accessible for us. The following really resonated with me:

All her life she has been able to tap into a larger brain and become a momentary expert on any subject... A piece of information being out of reach is more than unthinkable; it is maddening.

In short, Everything About You was insidious and thought provoking!