Book Review: "Machines Like Me" by Ian McEwan
2/5 - What happened Mr. McEwan?
When it comes to Ian McEwan, I become divided. Normally, he is a great author with some brilliantly dark stories about the human psyche. Other times, he can be a good author with stories that involve love that is, more than often, unrealistic. And a lot of times, he is an awful author with some outlandish stories which you simply cannot connect to. I find that “Machines Like Me” tends to fall into one of the two latter categories. First of all, we have the unrealistic nature of love, nobody thinks about another person that much that they cannot possibly focus on day-to-day tasks unless they are insane and require medical attention. Then we have the story of the machine or “Adam” that is outlandish and impossible to connect to. Personally, I found this to be one of the worst books I have read by Ian McEwan and it almost turned me off reading him - but I remembered that I also read “Cement Garden” - which was brilliant, and carried on reading his novels. Obviously, if you know me, you know I don’t like namby-pamby romantic storylines, which this has to an extent. You know that I like a hell of a lot of atmosphere, which is not really provided in this book. You also know that I enjoy well fleshed-out characters who have a moral compass that is often questionable - not characters who try to reason sexual assault, like in this book. I found this book to be a bit tasteless. But anyway, here is what is it about.
Charlie buys something called “Adam”. It is a robot designed by Alan Turing in the alternative English 1980s in which the genius never committed suicide. Adam is the male counterpart to Eve, and they can do anything except for get wet. They can cook and clean, they can talk and walk, they can recharge and they can basically imitate humans. Charlie is 33 years’ old and is in unrequited love with a woman called Miranda - who is 22. I know, this sounds not only very dodgy but also downright silly in terms of a storyline. He spends his days yearning over Miranda, which makes you ask the question of why he didn’t just buy himself Eve instead. But anyways, that is besides the point. I would think that Ian McEwan would have more common sense than to write drivel like this, but apparently not. Maybe he was just running out of money because honestly, I have never read a McEwan book this completely bad and I read “Atonement” twice. As the book moves on, there is this love triangle that seems completely silly as well, it kind of makes you laugh even though you know it is supposed to be dark and intense, it just seems laughable. However, McEwan’s writing style tries to save the day with his philosophical lurking - but at the end of the day it just sounds like he is writing page fillers, or that he is rambling incoherently.
In conclusion, if you’re reading the Ian McEwan bibliography, I think it would be a good idea to either skip this one or if you want, read it and honestly you can find out for yourself why the book is so laughable. I was seriously hoping for a darker more intense novel about machinery and machine learning, but in the end all I got was someone who didn’t understand what was so creepy about him in his middle age, falling in love with a girl who was just about legal. And that is pretty gross to me.