I had heard that this was a really interesting book and looked forward to reading it. It took a few pages to really get into it, but it ended up being a very interesting and engaging read. The ending totally threw me for a loop and made me want to go back and re-read it.
The whole book occurs as a young historian, Anax, takes a four hour examination in front of the Academy in hope that she will pass and be admitted to the Academy. Her four hour dissertation is on a prominent historical figure, Adam Forde. The book is literally a dialogue of what the Academy asks her and what she answers.
The above may sound a bit strange; I mean to write a book solely about one exam is a bit weird. When I started reading the book it took me a bit to get engaged in the story. As Anax delves deeper into the history of Adam Forde the story becomes more engaging and then you are on the edge of your set trying to figure out what happened and is going to happen.
Much of the dialogue delves into debate on what it means to be human versus AI. Adam Forde spends time in seclusion with an AI that is self-teaching. Many of the discussions between Adam and the AI are what Anax spends time debating and disclosing. Almost the whole of the book centers on what turns a society governed by fear can take, what it means to be human, and how to protect humanity from itself. Some of the discussions get a bit drawn out and some of the same points are made over and over again; but I found the majority of the discussion to be very interesting.
I can’t say a ton more about the book without giving things away. Needless to say the ending was awesome; it was very unexpected and caught me by surprise. After you read the ending you will definitely have to rethink the whole book, and most likely will want to read through it again.
This book was written in a very creative way, delves into the philosophy of human versus AI (which for me is a topic that never gets old), was very engaging, and had an ending that you will either love or hate. It takes a bit to get into the story so be patient. The book is very short and is a quick read. I would recommend that everyone pick up this book; it gets you thinking and will surprise you in the end.