“There’s something I have to explain, my love,” he says, taking your hand in his. “That wasn’t a dream. It was an upload.”
Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.
Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.
But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?
This is virgin territory for me – my first ever audiobook review! It’s a format that I’ve previously steered away from. I’m quite visual, and as such I like to physically read a book, but I was offered the opportunity and I thought, why not give it a go.
I have to say that I was drawn into The Perfect Wife from chapter one. The concept is original and compelling and I found myself very quickly hooked on the story. I don’t have any prior experience of audiobook narratives to compare to, but I found the voice actors to be both soothing and intriguing in tone – although I did find the male actor’s take on Abbie’s voice to be a tad distracting!
I was concerned that the genre of tech-thriller would leave me a bit bamboozled and perplexed, particularly as I’m not used to listening to my books. I didn’t feel at all out of my depth and in all honesty the tech nitty-gritty is nicely side-stepped and the story focuses far more on the story than the know-how.
One of my favourite elements of this book was the not knowing. Not only in that I didn’t know how it would end, but also I didn’t really know how I wanted it to end. As the reveals kept coming whilst Abbie began to unravel the truth behind human Abbie’s demise, I found that my mind was racing at a hundred miles an hour. As a narrator Abbie is unreliable. Not because she hides the truth, but because she only knows what she is intended to know. As the reader it is hard to know if that is fact or fiction.
I was completely and utterly invested, however, and not just a little freaked out. When I read the blurb, I admit, that I thought it all sounded a little too fantastical. But The Perfect Wife feels completely seeped in a realism that is within reach technologically speaking, so that by the end I found myself pondering the ethics of this type of tech in a world that will likely be known to me.
Something else I found fascinating was the question: what is it to be human? It is posed in such a way that the lines are increasingly blurred and humanity becomes something almost old-fashioned by the end, a concept in dire need of update. The use of a sentient being vs autism was a clever way of demonstrating just how out dated our thought processes would be in that type of situation.
The Perfect Wife is the first novel I have come across by JP Delaney, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely read (or listen!) to other releases. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a slight modern twist to the traditional psychological thriller.
*I received an audiobook version of The Perfect Wife from the publisher. The decision to listen was my own, and this review forms my honest opinion.