Book Review: The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith

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.

My Photo [The Happy Chip].jpg

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

The Happy Chip is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon UK or

– Judith


Book Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do androids dream? Rick asked himself

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction, post-apocalyptic novel by Philip K. Dick. It is set on Earth, which has been damaged by a global nuclear war. The book is about Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is tasked with destroying escaped androids that are too human-like and have gone rogue.

I really liked this book – I read it in just under two days.

The only other work I’ve read by Philip K. Dick was The Man In The High Castle, which I had mixed opinions about. You can read my review of it here.

In comparison, I much preferred Androids. There are lots of science fiction motifs that don’t weigh the narrative down with jargon as things are clearly explained throughout.

I especially liked the Mood Organ, a device with the ability to change the user’s emotional state at the press of a button. It’s simultaneously desirable – to help you get over bad moods – and problematic, as anyone who has access to your Mood Organ has access, and therefore control, over your inner emotions and thoughts.

Androids, like The Man In The High Castle, was very character driven. This time however, I actually found all the main characters likeable and interesting in different ways.

Although, in some places, I thought Androids was a little too theological and philosophical when discussing the godlike figure of Mercer (which I still don’t fully understand) but this didn’t trip me up enough to spoil my reading.

The title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a nod to Rick’s desire to own a real, living animal but only owns an electric imitation sheep. Most animals became extinct in the wake of the nuclear war, dying of radiation poisoning. However, his neighbours believe his sheep is real, granting him a perceived level of status. Yet it raises the question; if Rick’s neighbours already believe an electronic imitation is real, what difference does it make if it isn’t?

The narrative was quite dark in places, with some sinister but enjoyable plot twists. Androids introduces themes such as empathy and sympathy, reality versus artifice and questions what it really means to be human, a question I think is a prevalent subject in popular culture today.

Robotics is a modern science which seems to have become even more popular in recent years. Channel 4 adapted Philip K. Dick’s short stories into a sci-fi anthology series just last year – titled Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – and in 2015, the TV series Humans made its debut, exploring robotics, artificial intelligence and the social impact of increasingly human-like androids on families and the world.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a fascinating and entertaining read –  I definitely recommend.

– Judith

Book Review: The Unquiet House

The Unquiet House by Alison Littlewood is a paranormal horror set in Yorkshire. It is about Emma Dean, a young woman who inherits Mire House, an old abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. However, Emma begins to see ghostly figures and wonder what secrets Mire House is keeping.

I wasn’t sure what to make of The Unquiet House – personally, I think Mire House might have worked as a better title, especially as I kept accidentally reading it as ‘The Uniquest House’.

As a Yorkshire native myself, Littlewood’s references to Yorkshire place-names and most characters’ Yorkshire accents, evidenced in their dialogue, were pleasant enough, though I can imagine some readers getting frustrated trying to translate!

The Unquiet House is separated into different narrative strands. Each strand is set in a different era, but all the narratives are linked by paranormal activities taking place at Mire House.

It’s a conventional enough horror story, with some very strong resemblances in places to The Woman In Black. Admittedly, I did like The Woman In Black, but it would be nice if modern ghost stories weren’t all the same. The Woman In Black film adaptation was released in 2012 and The Unquiet House was published in 2014, so I find it difficult to believe there wasn’t deliberate overlap.

The narrative of each strand was incredibly character-driven, which worked in Littlewood’s favour, as most characters were developed well enough for me to care about their fears.

However, ending was a very mixed bag; it fluctuated wildly between slightly dull with a great twist, fairly exciting, then back to dull. I would have much preferred a punchier, dramatic ending.

Overall, The Unquiet House was enjoyable, but I can’t recall anything overly scary happening; the supernatural occurrences didn’t feel as eerie as they could have been. A possible side-effect of reading too much Stephen King perhaps.

 – Judith