Review: The Perfect Wife (J.P. Delaney)*
“There’s something I have to explain, my love,” he says, taking your hand in his. “That wasn’t a dream. It was an upload.”
– J.P. Delaney, The Perfect Wife
Author: J.P. Delaney
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Page Count: 448
Published: 6 August 2019
Plot: (8 / 10) Characters: (6 / 10) Ending: (7 / 10)
Author: J.P. Delaney
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. Tim is a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.
Five years ago, Abbie went missing, presumed dead. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken Tim half a decade to achieve – she is a companion robot, or “co-bot”.
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?
The plot for this book really intrigued me. I’ve read J.P. Delaney’s two other psychological thrillers and enjoyed both of them, particularly The Girl Before – his storylines are always so unique.
There’s a sci-fi element with The Perfect Wife, looking at artificial intelligence, the future of robots in society, and the effect that could have on humanity.
Tim and Abbie’s young son, Danny, was diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), also known as Heller’s syndrome. Skills that he previously had, such as communication, were being lost. I actually did some reading on it, and I thought it was written about very well. Danny and Abbie find a way to communicate using Thomas the Tank Engine, which is really the only thing he responds to – my son is a huge fan of Thomas, so I recognised a lot of the quotes in the book. I read in the authors notes that J.P. Delaney’s son is autistic, and I thought his writing demonstrated how knowledgeable he is about it.
My main issue with the book is that aside from Danny, I didn’t care about that characters. I thought Tim was arrogant, narcissistic and basically not a very nice guy. I did warm to Abbie, the co-bot, and it was written to the point where you almost forget she is a robot. The storyline was enough to keep me reading however, and the concept is fascinating – I’ve never read anything like it, and I think makes this book worth reading.
The story is told with two narrators, written in second-person narrative; one is present-day Abbie, the “co-bot”, the other is an unknown voice, telling the story of Tim and Abbie’s relationship over the years. I struggled a lot with the narrative, often having to reread paragraphs to work out who was being referred to, particularly at the end – I’m still not totally sure I understood the ending!
The Perfect Wife is a really intriguing book, though sometimes it felt like there was too much going on. It would also have been nice to have had a couple of other characters involved for some variety, but it posed some really interesting questions about humanity, data protection and our rights.
Does this sound like a book you’d read?
*The Perfect Wife was kindly gifted to me for review by Quercus Books, but all opinions are my own