Author: Melissa Simonson
Genre: Science Fiction
Lingering is a story about a grieving man trying to move past the death of his murdered fiancée. One day, while visiting her grave, he meets a woman who offers him the chance to speak to her again. When he finally gets desperate enough to take this woman up on her unusual offer, he then has to face up to the consequences which threaten more than just his own psyche.
After Carissa is murdered, Ben visits her grave every day. There he meets Joe, who makes daily trips to the neighboring gravesite to visit the wife he lost to cancer one month before Carissa died. Ben and Joe quickly become close friends. They drink together in the graveyard, share stories of the women they loved, and support each other through especially hard days. A handful of close friends, family, and coworkers remain in Ben’s life, but it seems as if Joe is the only one who truly understands what he’s going through.
The day Ben meets Jess at the graveside changes everything. She introduces herself and gives him a business card for “Lingering”, making vague insinuations that her business has the capability to allow Ben to converse with Carissa again. He reacts to this with skepticism and mistrust, but she leaves him with the prediction he’ll call her at some point.
After a particularly difficult day, Ben does call. He’s immediately drawn into the world of Jess and her boyfriend Nick, the brains behind “Lingering”. Nick has created a computer program that allows Ben to talk to a version of Carissa. Even though he knows she isn’t real, this new incarnation of his fiancée seems so lifelike that Ben begins to retreat from the world and everyone in it, including Joe, as he spends more and more time wrapped up in Carissa.
Simonson creates a diverse cast of characters in this book. They’re all distinct and believable, and even those who are completely irredeemable possess an emotional resonance that will ring true with readers.
This novel delves into questions about artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness. At times readers may have to suspend disbelief to fully immerse themselves in the story, especially if they possess a technical scientific background. Still, the ideas Simonson explores here are intriguing and well worth spending some time with.
Lingering ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. The subject matter addressed here is more than a little complex, and so it seems apt that not everything is neatly wrapped up at the end of a few hundred pages. But some readers may find this lack of closure frustrating.
Lingering will appeal to readers interested in AI, programming, and design. In this novel, Simonson tackles grief from an unconventional but understanding perspective. It’s all too easy to imagine the events in this novel actually taking place, and sci-fi fans will enjoy the blend of future fiction and alternate present. Altogether, this is a fun read that is well written and thought provoking.
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