Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.
Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.
But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?
Yes I read a sci-fi novel which is already quite extraordinary news but not only that is new, it was also the very first audiobook I ever completed. I did listen regularly to a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime adaptation of How To Stop Time but I feel that doesn’t really count as the same thing, so I’m quite proud of myself that I finished listening to the 128 files of The Perfect Wife. So how was my experience? I’m not going to lie, it was a bumpy ride. It took me two months in all but the first 50 files were the most difficult, I listened very irregularly and only 3-4 files in one go but after that I really got the hang of it and listened to the rest in only two weeks or so. It helped that each file and chapter was a soundbite of app. 7 minutes, so I could really listen to it in small doses if I wanted to (I started to really enjoy listening during my half an hour lunch break).
The narration of the audiobook was ok but the woman’s voice with Abbie as a robot was very softly spoken, I did miss some energy and power there sometimes to really keep my attention afloat. Maybe a robot can’t be so vivacious and energetic as the Abbie I came to know in the flashbacks of the past, that might explain why, but she felt insecure and in doubt of herself, not really what I think a robot would be or what I felt the original Abbie was.
The sci-fi part of it all was quite enjoyable and a future like the one presented in this story wasn’t even very hard to imagine. I liked the general plot idea and it was developped quite well although I would have enjoyed if it was a bit more fast-paced and with more happening in the past. Something was definitely off I but couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. Abbie doesn’t trust her husband in the present and he did seem a little controlling to me from the start but is he a murderer? Did he really love Abbie so much he wanted to recreate her as an Abbie-bot, or does he have another motive? There was a big and slow lead up to the final conclusion. The author has a delicous twist in store at the end and I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard it. That alone is quite the exception. It made me all the more happy I persisted and didn’t give up at first.
So to conclude I’d say from one novice sci-fi reader to another: The Perfect Wife is totally readable and enjoyable as a novel to dip your toes into the genre.
I listened to a free copy of this novel via Titleshare, courtesy of the publisher. This is still my honest opinion.