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The premise for this book was unusual and in these technologically advancing times not beyond credibility. A computer geek writes software which enables living people to "converse" with their dead loved ones via e-mail and video. He does this in order that his girlfriend can "speak" to her recently deceased grandmother. For the first half or so of the book I was fairly engaged by the storyline and the characters but thereafter ennui set in. I found the last part of the story contrived and lost any empathy for the main character. I would have been happy enough to spend 99p on this book but at £6.99 for the Kindle version I wouldn't bother.
This book will stay with me for a long time. I was fascinated by the story, the technology, and charmed by the delightful characters. It gave me much food for thought and discussion and I have recommended it to all if my reader friends. Keep writing Laurie! (I also loved That’s the Way...)
5.0 out of 5 starsBittersweet, poignant, entertaining, effortless!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 July 2012
This is just my kind of book: it's a lovely mix of contrasts; of happiness and sadness, of love and loss, of life and death. It's a sci-fi theme at its core, but sweetly packaged to appeal to fans of romance, moral debate, drama and comedy.
The book is set in the world as we know it, not a futuristic setting that would put off readers who aren't interested in sci-fi: Sam, a regular guy (also a computer genius) designs a computer programme that will allow the loved ones of the recently deceased to continue seeing and interacting with them as if they were still there. It's a brilliantly simple idea for a novel and you can probably guess some of the issues that are going to be raised... The characters, the story, the themes of death & grief and all the moral questions arising from keeping the dead 'alive' (when you probably really should be letting them go) are all exquisitely woven together in one incredibly entertaining and poignant book.
It's a fresh and original story and I can't really liken it to anything else I've read. The book echoes the tone and some of the elements of the film Sim0ne and perhaps also Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, but it's a very different story at its heart. It's an effortless read, so well put-together that there were no real dips; something was always happening, moving the story along and keeping me hooked to the very last page. It was a hugely satisfying read for me and this is the book I'll no doubt be recommending to everyone for a long while!
4.0 out of 5 starsProfound, but nothing mystical involved.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 September 2012
Reading the synopsis, you would be forgiven if you were led to believe there was an element of paranormal in the story. It's not, its purely computer science and artificial intelligence. The story tells of a brilliant mind Sam whom a software engineer by profession decides to create artificial intelligence in the form of his girlfriend's deceased grandmother. Meredith, in mourning finds comfort and solace in Sam's creation and decides to share the software program with the world. In doing so, the theme of mourning, letting go and dealing with grief is the very subject matter which forms the basis for the entire novel. There are conflict of interests, emotional upheavals, religious and moral controversy. Sam's software program effectively redefines the meaning of loss in the ritual of mourning, and the ideology of being forever dead and lost to a loved one has been changed. Sam doesn't truly understand this until an awful tragedy occurs, I won't say what this event entailed, but it was quite predictable given the number of characters involved. The novel follows one character through a grieving process, and we see how the program really comes into effect. The conclusion is thought provoking, it invites you to consider what seemingly appears to be a miraculous technological invention, whether this could really conquer the grief that is typical with loss in human emotion. And whether letting go is really better after all.
The technological theory behind the story makes sense, it's based on data scraping, but admittedly you are required to suspend belief over the advancement of the artificial intelligence in being able to video chat with the deceased and unconscious. However I believe the main focus point of this book is not the miracle of the technology, but about how human emotion no matter how grievous will always remain unchanged, and despite the invention of Sam's program, everyone of us one day will need to learn to let go and say goodbye.
You have got to read this book, i enjoyed it so much i'm even thinking of rereading it, and i never reread anything!
This book sounds so simple, a man invents a computer algorythm that allows you to recreate your dead loved one using their online presence. Simple ... right? This book is so much more than that simple premise. It looks at the miriad different ways that we all react to a death from anger at the loss, to anger that you didn't say what you had wanted to all those years, to all sorts of other emotions. I could see how this program could help some people and cause immense damage to others, how it could be used for those people who just can't quite let go yet and those who just want one last chance to say goodbye forever. It looked at how the program grew from being just for one person to make them happy again to wondering how people would change if they knew they could be saved forever as an electronic version of themselves. Would that make it harder or easier for the dying and those left behind.
Not only does this book grow and progress beautifully, it is also written in a style that's at once clear to understand with all the programming speak covered so as not to confuse, and also poetic and touching. It deals with some really tricky topics but you don't come away feeling sad or upset, just interested in this as a topic.
I would say to everyone to read this book, i loved it!
4.0 out of 5 starsWould you want to video chat with your dead loved one?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 December 2012
Sam loves new girlfriend Meredith and when her beloved Gran Livvie dies he wants to use his expertise/genius at writing computer software to design a program whereby Meredith can both see and "talk" to gran on her computer. The idea is that all the video chats the two shared before her death are plundered and rearranged to make "new" chatting feasible. Because Meredith takes to this new possibility and welcomes it, the pair decide to turn it into a business. The computer can, it seems, work out how to respond as long as the conversation stays within the patterns of the past conversations. You cannot tell the dead person that they are in fact dead. This will confound them of course, but in fact the newly bereaved find it hard not to blurt out "You are dead!"
The book really does a huge exploration of grieving, and provokes the reader to think about if this is something that they might want !?
There is also a decent plot and surprises that kept me hooked until near the end and then I started to wish the book would end. So for me it's somehow too long, but I appreciate that the length gives the author the room to fully explore different situations and needs that death can bring. Old, young, sudden or slow deaths all bring out different responses in loved ones. There is also a twist on the usage that is interesting but I am giving no spoilers. So will say no more on that. Having enjoyed this author's writing I have bought a copy of her previous novel and look forward to reading it. Recommended as long as you don't mind a slow thoughtful read. One last trivial point: why give your main female character a name that is used frequently in this novel, shortened to Merde ?
5.0 out of 5 starsWitty, moving, clever and original - I loved it!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2012
Goodbye For Now is that rare thing - a high-concept novel which delivers on all fronts, with great characters, an inventive plot and strong, witty writing.
Sam Elling, a computer software designer comes up with an algorithm for an internet dating site - quite simply, it will match you up with the love of your life. Unfortunately, it works so well, he is made redundant, as it's not good for repeat business. Thankfully he has by then fallen in love himself, with Meredith - although sadly their romantic whirl is interrupted by the death of Meredith's grandmother and she is plunged into grief. She and her grandmother were so close and spoke all the time, either in person or on video chat. If only there was a way to speak to her again...
Sam's imagination is sparked. Perhaps his brilliant computer science skills can help? And so begins a journey which takes Sam and Meredith to some very unexpected places...
I don't want to give too much else away but Goodbye For Now is a truly enjoyable ride. The dialogue really sparkles with wit and energy, and there are some very funny (and also very moving) consequences to Sam's experiments. I predict this book is going to be a massive hit - and deservedly so. I loved it!
5.0 out of 5 stars"I just wish I could talk to her again"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 August 2012
Sam is a software engineer for a dating agency in Seattle. Creating a programme to find the "love of your life" is an easy step for him to take and he is rewarded by meeting Meredith, his perfect partner. There is a downside as far as his boss is concerned....the concept doesn't make money. If you've found that special one, you don't need to go on searching and paying good dollars to do so! Sam gets fired!
He moves in with Meredith (who, luckily, is still gainfully employed), when her beloved grandmother Livvie dies suddenly. Meredith utters the oft heard words of the bereaved..."I just wish I could talk to her again." That gets Sam's brain (with too much time on it's hands) ticking over and he wonders at the possibility of such a concept. He secretly creates a programme based on past conversations between the two women by email, text, Skype and phone. He can't hide it from Meredith forever and when she discovers what he has created she is overcome with joy at being able to chat with Livvie just like she used to. Despite Sam wanting to keep this a personal pastime, they do begin to see the possibility of this becoming a viable business. "Repose" is born and the demand for talking to your deceased loved ones becomes very popular indeed.
I can hear you saying..there has to be a down side to all this...and yes there are many and they come from the least thought of places. The reader is swept along with Sam and Meredith's desire to do good and their disappointment when something goes horribly wrong. The many characters are beautifully constructed and each have their own story.
Just over half way through the book, monumental tragedy strikes and the whole concept of staying in touch with your dead loved one becomes achingly real.
I can not praise this novel enough. It is beautifully written and so emotional...the writing just flows off the page. It is, by turn, hugely funny and achingly sad. I found myself crying over the purity and honesty shown by the author for the grieving process....so individual and so moving. Having been recently bereaved myself, the pain was almost unbearable at times, but there is a wonderful closure to this story and it is a story you won't forget. Sam and Meredith will stay with me for a long, long time.
This is the finest novel I have read this year and all I can say to Laurie Frankel is..."Hell I wish I could write like that!" Beautiful.