‘Evolved’ by N.R. Walker #LGBTQ+ #Review #Sci-Fi #Futuristic #ReleaseDayReview

Bethany and Erryn review ‘Evolved’ by N.R. Walker.  The book was self-published on April 23rd, 2018 and is 242 pages.  

NOTE:  This book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Why Bethany read: N.R Walker is an auto-buy for me so this was a no brainer.

Why Erryn read: Not only do I love N.R. Walker, I was intrigued by the premise.  Love an android?  I had to find out if that was possible.

In 2068, androids are an integrated part of human life. Big Brother no longer just watches from the shadows. It’s in every household.

Lloyd Salter has OCD issues with noise, mess, and he’s uncomfortable with human interaction. When his ex claimed the only thing perfect enough to live up to his standards was an android, Lloyd dismissed it. But two years later, after much self-assessment, he thinks he may have been right.

SATinc is the largest manufacturer of androids in Australia, including the Fully Compatible Units known as an A-Class 10. Their latest design is the Synthetic Human Android UNit, otherwise known as SHAUN.

Shaun is compatible to Lloyd’s every need; the perfect fit on an intellectual and physical basis. But Lloyd soon realises Shaun’s not like other A-Class androids. He learns. He adapts. Sure that SATinc is aware Shaun functions outside of his programmed parameters, Lloyd must find a way to keep Shaun safe.

No one can know how special Shaun is. No one can know he’s evolved.

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Bethany’s thoughts:

So I think I have read everything by N.R. Walker.  Ok maybe not ALL of her books, but I can safely say I have read 98% of them.  I love the way she writes, how she builds a story and makes it come alive.  I can escape reality when I pick up one of her books, seeing myself in her characters.  She is an auto buy, as well as auto listen when she releases an audio.  I have read, and re-read her books over and over again.  They are a comfort read for me, the perfect hug in a book.

SOOOOO when I read the blurb for this one I was somewhat taken back.  It didn’t sound like anything she has written before.   Here is the thing though, I am not a huge fan of futuristic books.  They are not ones I typically gravitate towards, but its N.R so I knew I had to read it.  And I am so glad I did.

You know, I can relate to Lloyd; there are certain things that send me into a tailspin.  Things that really just bug the crap out of me.  And for the most part I am pretty much an introvert.  Like when its the weekend don’t ask me to socialize – I do enough of that during the week.  Crowds bother me and I like routine.  While my OCD does not compare to Lloyd’s, I can understand where he is coming from.  But I was unsure how things would work for Lloyd and Shaun.  But this is when I had to step outside of my normal contemporary mindset and let my imagination wonder.

I cannot begin to tell you how much this book affected me in the best possible way.  For me, androids in this book remind me of how our society works.  There are class levels, where if you aren’t A-Class then you don’t really matter, or you are looked down upon.  And while Lloyd has yet to stop and think about these things, it takes living with Shaun, getting to know Shaun to put things into perspective for him.  He becomes aware of the people and androids around him.  Corny as it sounds, even though you are the richest of the rich, doesn’t make you a nice person.  Just like being a B-Class android doesn’t make the work they do any less integral to their society.

I fell in love with Shaun and would sometimes forget that he was not a breathing human being.  Which I think N.R. was going for.  She wanted us to see him as human, someone who thinks for himself, someone who feels hurt, happiness, sadness and joy.  Goodness that woman knows how to write a book that can kick you right in the feels.  But do you know what I loved the most?

Lloyd and Shaun together.

You see, despite the fact that Shaun is an android, he makes Lloyd wonder and question.  But the most important thing that Shaun does for Lloyd is let him hope.  Lloyd start to believe that he might not be alone for the rest of his life, despite his OCD.   He begins to think he could actually be happy and feel love.  Oh this made me want to cry because I wanted that so badly for Lloyd.  And I couldn’t wipe the smile of my face knowing that it was Shaun that finally gave him that.

Yes, there was a point in this book where I thought we just might not get the “happy ever after” N.R. is so good at.  But I should have known better; she wouldn’t do that to us.  The ending was just brilliant, proving love does conquer all.  People of all walks of life: rich, poor, gay, straight, bi, OCD, messy, young and old all deserve happiness no matter who gives it to them.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  It is so not N.R.’s typical style of writing, but you will not regret picking this one up.  I know it is one I will re-read whenever I need my faith in humanity restored.Duo.

Bethany’s Rating:

10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars


Erryn’s thoughts:

Wow.  Just…wow.

Anything N.R. Walker writes is going to be good.  Recently, I’ve devoured everything she’s written that I could get my hands on, so when the chance to read ‘Evolved’ arrived, I pounced.

Usually, I like to think about the book I’ve just read.  I like to take time to absorb the story, the message – to process what I’ve experienced.

I can’t wait that long.

I want everyone to know how much I LOVED this book.

I was intrigued.  Although I enjoyed Star Trek (hello Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Zoe Saldana…need I go on?)—in fact, I’ve probably watched most episodes—I’ve never had a visceral reaction to characters like Data or 7 of 9, played brilliantly by Brent Spiner and Jerri Ryan.  I understood sentient electronic beings, but it’s not something I’ve connected to.  A good friend of mine writes a cyborg series.  I’ve bought every book, but please don’t tell her – I’ve never actually read any of them.

That will soon be rectified.  Judging by readers’ reactions to her books, they are darned good.

My only true ‘exposure’ to androids is in J.D. Robb’s magnificent ‘In Death’ series.  I’m intrigued by droids – especially service ones.  Someone to clean my apartment and cook me dinner?  Sign me up!

But an android as a sentient companion?  Far-fetched.  And until I read this book, I had no interest.  After all, flaws are what I find most attractive about other people.  Perfection is highly overrated.

So why would I want an electronic companion?  If all humans chose to be incapable of reproduction, the human race would die out, right?  And, let’s be honest, messiness is what makes sex so wonderful.

Shaun, the android in the story, is too perfect.  He’s programmed to meet Lloyd’s every need.  He cleans, he cooks, and, interestingly, he can discuss ‘Moby Dick’ in great detail.  Okay, my attention was piqued.  Lloyd chose to have an intelligent and well-versed android.  A companion who would meet his every need including those that make him unique.  Lloyd has OCD and finds people too messy – literally and figuratively.  So, deciding he’s tired of being lonely, he purchases the ‘perfect’ partner.

And they do quickly become partners.  Shaun adapts to Lloyd’s life seamlessly and Lloyd is no longer lonely.  What quickly becomes apparent, though, is that Shaun is different from what Lloyd expected.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say this much – this is a love story.  Is it creepy to have a human love a machine who is incapable of returning the affection?  Sure, Shaun is amazing in bed, but there needs to be more, right?

I think this passage best explains why I connected so deeply with this book.

[Shaun] closed his eyes and whispered, “I am not human.”

“You’re better than human. His eyes shot open, and I smiled as I held his face.  “Humans – not all humans, but most – stopped caring a long time ago.  People became detached.  Interacting online became normal because interacting with humans and all that nonsense, effort, and trivial drama that came with it became too difficult.  It was easier to speak to our friends online when we wanted, then close down the internet when we needed silence.  Androids became commonplace and it was easy; companionship without unnecessary drama.

I am one of those lonely people.  Not Lloyd lonely – he has one ‘friend’ and that’s about it.

I have co-workers I enjoy talking to and sharing bits and pieces of my life with.  I have family who know a lot and who are always there to support (and sometimes judge).  I have a circle of friends I love to get together with.  I have a book club…I could go on.  Many of these things are new because I used to be like Lloyd – afraid of relationships.  Once burned and all that.

Am I looking for love?  A companion?  Someone who ‘gets’ me?  Sure.  I’m always open to meeting new people and if that led to something more, I would be thrilled.

I’m happy with my ‘real’ life.  But, the truth is, for me, as for many others, my Internet persona is where I make many connections.  Are they real?  Probably not as much as I wish they were because, as we often see, people are not always who they appear to be online.  People lie.

That being said, the person I am closest to, the person who knows everything about me, is someone I’ve never met.

How many more people are there like me in the world?

Too many.

And although I treasure my co-workers, family, and friends, I long for touch, for connection.  Especially here in North America, we have sexualized touch.  We have to be careful who we touch.  Now, I’m not talking about violating consent and pushing unwanted touching on someone, but I’m talking casual touches, hugs, etc.  We hardly do that anymore.  Especially men.  I’m at a conference right now where everyone will give you a hug if you ask.  I need more of that.

Which is why I loved Shaun.  That a company has created a life-like android is not surprising – they are becoming more common and realistic as time goes on.

But a Shaun?  I suspect he’s closer than we think.  And I want what he can offer – companionship, affection, and intellectual stimulation.

Does that make me weird?  Possibly?  But should I be destined to be alone for the rest of my life?  I don’t know.  Would I have to ensure I didn’t become wrapped up in an android?  Of course.

In the end, though, Shaun brings many good things to Lloyd’s life and that was what I really appreciated.  I related to Lloyd, which was why I loved this book.

I might have shed a few tears, but I laughed a lot.  Certainly more than I would have expected.  That is the magic of Ms. Walker’s storytelling – it makes me think, engages me emotionally and intellectually, and makes me laugh.

This book might be different from anything else she’s ever written, but that’s a GOOD thing.  Talented writers ask ‘what if?’  Great writers take a chance and try to answer that question.

Erryn’s Rating:

10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter: @NR_Walker | Goodreads

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

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