You feel ecstatic! Until you kill yourself.
If one science-fiction themed blog post wasn’t enough – see Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – here’s a second.
The Happy Chip is a story about a revolutionary nano-chip which allows people to monitor their physical health and emotional well-being; it can even guide life choices and personal preferences. However, writer Brad Davis begins working for the company responsible, and soon learns they have plans to create new chips – this time with more horrific side effects including suicidal tendencies, monstrous rage, and instant death.
When choosing a book to review for Rosie’s Book Review Team, the tagline and premise of The Happy Chip immediately caught my eye.
The beginning was shocking and instantly places the reader in the midst of this dystopian technology, forcing you to work things out for yourself. I liked this – not everything needs explaining straightaway.
Yet when explanations are needed, some of the scientific jargon surrounding the biology and nano-chip technology was somewhat overwhelming and in places not particularly clear. Meredith is a science communicator and has worked with science journalists and written various pieces himself, so it is natural the scientific language would be detailed. However, overly scientific jargon can easily become confusing to the “average” reader.
Furthermore, there was a lot of gun terminology that was lost on me. As a reader from the UK, guns are not a part of everyday life; I don’t know anything about them and so specific details regarding models and rounds were seemingly unnecessary to me.
I liked the concept of monitoring and altering emotions and choices at will, as it is reminiscent of other works such as Brave New World and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and raises classic dystopian questions such as “What is free will?” and “What makes us human?”.
The new chips – engineered for different outcomes whether implanted in males or females – was an effective, if not a little stereotypical, threat.
I enjoyed the subtle manipulation of people (wouldn’t in real life obviously, unethical, ew). However, some of the descriptions of characters’ emotional states could have been developed further as they weren’t very detailed.
Pacing was also something I felt could have been improved. Halfway through The Happy Chip, it felt like I was at the climax of the novel. Perhaps the narrative would have been better split into two shorter stories. However, this is simply personal preference (I haven’t been taken over by a nanochip just yet).
I did enjoy The Happy Chip, although Meredith’s storytelling techniques could be improved.
Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars