Review: Speak by Louisa Hall


2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I was initially drawn to Speak through its cover – I frequently do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. Having just re-watched the film Ex Machina for Sci-Fi Month 2015, it immediately struck me as sounding similar, plus the figure on the cover looked a little like Ava, the A.I. in the film. I’ve always been intrigued by A.I., but my recent exploration into the sub-genre of science fiction had me interested.

And so I dove into the book, expecting something dark, technologically very clever, and most of all, exciting.

I hate to say it, but I came out very, very disappointed. Speak is not a novel as much as a collection of diary entries and chat logs, all from different time periods, all linked together by artificial intelligence. However, the link felt tenuous at best, meaning that it felt more like a collection of random stories, all told in different chapters. One diary was of a 16/17th century teenage girl, making the journey from England to the New World. Another was a chatlog between a chatbot and a paralysed teenaged girl. There was also the diary of the creator of a certain artificial intelligence.

In some ways, maybe they were linked. Both in others, not at all. I didn’t find any single chapter or event to be particularly interesting or exciting, there was no real chance to get to know any character and I was, quite honestly, rather bored of it all by the end. It’s a shame, because Speak looked so full of promise, but despite the beautiful writing it ultimately felt like a lot of loose ends with no real conclusion.


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