Updated: Mar 30, 2020
This was one of those ARCs that I requested from Net Galley without fully reading the description. Sometimes going in blind to a book is fun, because you have zero expectations and are more open minded. The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney is a psychological thriller with The Stepford Wives vibes. I ended up thoroughly enjoying this page turning thriller with a sci fi twist.
Abbie Cullen-Scott awakens from a vivid dream filled sleep to a man who claims to be her husband and no idea of who she is or where she is. Her husband, Tim Scott, is an icon in the Silicon Valley tech world and he runs a company, Scott Robotics, that specializes in creating robots that can replace job roles formerly held by humans. Abbie, or this cobot version of Abbie, learns that she is a talented artist, a perfect wife, and mother to their beloved son, Danny. Tim tells her she was the victim of a terrible incident five years ago, but has been brought back in another life form, artificial intelligence. She is a technological breakthrough with the memories of Abbie and the ability to empathize and feel emotions. Tim has given her a second chance at life as a cobot, but at what cost? Her memories have been programed, but not all of them, as Abbie cannot recall how she died. Did she even ever die? Is Tim telling her the truth? Was she the perfect wife he claims she was? Abbie starts to recover memories, piece them together, and uncover that Tim is not being completely honest with her.
The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney is a wild ride. The robot storyline caught me off guard, but only because I did not fully read the synopsis. I saw "psychological thriller" and clicked "request," but I was pleasantly surprised. The short chapters alternating between cobot Abbie's experience navigating the world in her new form and a group of unnamed narrators, who appear to be Scott Robotic's employees, make the book fast paced. The Scott Robotic's employees describe how Tim and Abbie first met and started dating, how Tim runs his company with an iron fist, and all of the unanswered questions about Tim. Each chapter gave me a little morsel of more information, just enough to keep me wanting to turn the page to learn more.
Though The Perfect Wife is in the thriller genre, it touched on some topics and social issues in a way that was almost literary fiction-esque. Abbie and Tim's son Danny has autism and that dynamic is a large part of the storyline. Cobot Abbie feels maternal instincts towards Danny and it helps her uncover some of Abbie's past secrets. Tim treats his son the way he treats his robots, which is difficult to read at some points. This also plays into Tim's true self. The narration from his employees reveals Tim's misogynistic, egotistical dark side. He treated women like objects and objectified Abbie the most. He put her on a pedestal as the perfect wife, from where she could only go one way, but down. Cobot Abbie uncovers the dark secrets and rumors that meld together to form the complete picture.
I rated The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney a hearty ★★★★. It is not your typical thriller, but the AI spin made it an interesting storyline. There were a few twists, nothing major until the last few chapters, which kept me intrigued. The twist at the end was surprising and not what I was expecting. I finished the book and thought "what the f&*$ did I just read?!," but I think that is what JP Delaney was going for. It was an entertaining book, but with a deeper message, which I loved because I am a huge fan of literary fiction.
Thank you to Random House and Net Galley for the free advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review! If you are intrigued, you can pick up your copy starting August 6th, when this thriller sci fi gem is published and out for the world to read.
Happy reading and be careful if you are dating someone who has an affinity for robots.