Made for Love by Alissa Nutting [in Library Journal]
After 10 years of surveillance-heavy luxury living as wife to Byron, the founder of the ubiquitous Gogol Industries, Hazel flees to her widowed father’s trailer to find her septuagenarian parent unpacking a sex doll. Despite the changing locations, Byron still looms, via a brain-implanted chip intended to “FULLY NETWORK WITH YOUR BELOVED SPOUSE”; translation – every 24 hours, while Hazel upchucks, Byron downloads all of the details of Hazel’s life. Meanwhile, sex-for-hire-con-man Jasper encounters an overly aggressive dolphin, leaving him unable to perform his job. He checks into Gogol Industries, until he’s ousted, albeit armed with a syringe intended for Hazel.
Nutting’s (Tampa) latest seems to channel Dave Eggers’s The Circle, bemoaning the all-reaching power of tech titans (and the inevitable possibility of downfalls). As the surreality here turns from clever to fatiguing, narrator Suzanne Elise Freeman seems to tire audibly as she presents these disconnected souls – Hazel, Byron, Hazel’s father, Jasper, Hazel’s off-the-grid lover – in two basic modes: desperate or growling (particularly for the men). She manages one final entertaining rally near book’s end as sarcastic diner boss Ms. Cheese.
Verdict: Tech-obsession warnings will likely require a more engaging presentation to prevent our eyes (and ears) from redirecting attention back to our siren screens.