Cat is the daughter of two eminent scientists. She lives a pretty carefree existence, studying what she pleases and playing in the garden of her family’s isolated house, until one day her father brings home Finn, whom he introduces as Cat’s new tutor. Over time, she and Finn develop a bond, and eventually their friendship turns into love. The only problem is, Finn isn’t human. He’s the first and only one of a new breed of incredibly advanced robots.
The story spans thirty years, from when Cat is a young girl, through her adolescence and into womanhood. I don’t think a year is ever actually specified - artificial intelligence is common, the earth’s climate has changed and there is space exploration and colonisation - but the feel of the book is very current, in the way people speak and the things they do.
The writing in this book is beautiful and melancholy. I’m not really one to cry over books, but I did feel myself misting up on occasion and Cat and Finn’s story stayed with me for ages after I’d finished the book.
Cat is a flawed protagonist, and all the better for it. She is selfish and makes some really bad choices and she’s annoying as hell in some places, but you still find yourself cheering her on. And Finn... I kept having to remind myself: he’s a robot. But I think that’s the whole point of the book. I guess really the author is asking us: at what point does something stop being a machine and start being a living entity? Is it with self-awareness? The ability to think and learn independently? The ability to love?
This book is so many things: romantic without being schmaltzy, sci-fi without being overly technical and philosophical without being inaccessible. I’d recommend it to anyone.