Title: We Care For You
Writer: Paul Kitcatt
Publishing House: Unbound Digital
Date of Publication: November 7th 2017
Rating: 4 stars
‘’They feel guilt, and relief, increased anxiety, reduced anxiety, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, happiness and unhappiness. Sometimes all at once. How is this possible? It is complicated, being human.’’
Evergreen is destined to be the final place of residence for a number of elderly people before Fate strikes with her ultimate blow. It aims to provide shelter for the ones whose families are unable or unwilling to provide care. There is nothing to ease the pain, to give them some last peace of mind, until Eldercare buys Evergreen and implements a radical change. Humanoids, or ‘’synthetic humans’’, are appointed as carers for the patients. They cannot be distinguished from humans, but they have certain distinctive qualities: they are constructed to have the welfare of their charges as their sole aim and they have no feelings, they cannot be offended. Winifred, a robot, is assigned to Margaret who battles against the last stages of dementia.
‘’Can you explain to me what life is?’’
The patients start showing unthinkable improvement but the most impressive thing is that the Helpers start considering what is like to be a human, to think and feel and act like one. It was extremely interesting to enter the mind of an artificial ‘’human’’ and discover its thoughts on the fascinating, excruciating absurdity of the human race. The voice of Winifred, the way her thoughts develop over the course of the story, is chilling to the point of being actually disturbing.
Paul Kitcatt includes a number of themes that raise concerns and give food to countless debates. For example, would we be willing to live forever if such a notion could exist? And what about those who are tired of living? Would euthanasia provide a solution? After all, our life is our own and it is up to as to extent it or shorten it. The fear and the reality of growing old, the loneliness, the distance between parents and children. Could a robot ever replace the lack of human contact to the point of rejuvenation?
The writing is very good, especially if we consider the difficult task undertaken. The language is poetic, at times, and enriched with images of birds, the creations of nature against the cold, heartless creations by humans. Perhaps, the dialogue may seem a bit awkward but I think this was done intentionally. The characters of Margaret and Winifred are outstanding. Margaret is wise, considerate and Winifred is heavily influenced by her view on life. The fact that she is just a robot and yet, she becomes such a memorable protagonist is amazing. John and his wife on the other hand? Best not mention….
I loved the sinister tone the novel acquires in the end. It was realistic and full of impact. A story that is set in the near future but with issues that concern us and have no simple answers. What if robots replace humans? What would happen to our world? And are we willing to admit that perhaps we are not the ideal guardians of the world that was so generously given to us? A world that is viciously hurt by humans. I can see this book being the ideal book-club choice for readers who demand meaningful material for their discussions and for fans of the Channel 4 TV series ‘’Humans’’
‘’…time means nothing to me, whereas for a human, it must be precious – or should be. They have so little, and they waste so much.’’
Many thanks to Unbound and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.