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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Book Review: We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

We Are Satellites 
by Sarah Pinsker
May 11, 2021
Genre: dystopian, SciFi
399 pages

From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them.

Everybody's getting one.  

Val and Julie just want what’s best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all. 

Soon, Julie feels mounting pressure at work to get a Pilot to keep pace with her colleagues, leaving Val and Sophie part of the shrinking minority of people without the device.  

Before long, the implications are clear, for the family and society: get a Pilot or get left behind. With government subsidies and no downside, why would anyone refuse? And how do you stop a technology once it's everywhere? Those are the questions Sophie and her anti-Pilot movement rise up to answer, even if it puts them up against the Pilot's powerful manufacturer and pits Sophie against the people she loves most.

Another author that I was reading for the first time courtesy of Netgalley. Overall, this was a pleasant read and would be perfect for book clubs and other similar gatherings. The questions presented at the end can serve as pointers for a good discussion too.

Now for what did it for me and what didn't:

What I Liked
The way the author portrays a loving family, how they make mistakes, and would still stick up for each other or forgive their loved ones felt genuine to me. Val's parts were my favorites because her motivations were clear to see. Even when she was unfair, she acknowledged that; it made her immensely likable. Julie, too, was authentically flawed, and while she irritated me at times, she came off as a real person.

Some lines were just beautiful to read and made me want to save them as favorite quotes.

The premise is too believable. Who wouldn't want tech that can help us do more in much less time? We all want to be multitaskers!

What I Didn't Like
For a sci-fi book, this story doesn't feature much from the genre. It's more about family, relationships, and just a bit about technology and its effects on society.

The pacing was all over the place. The first third rolled out smoothly and guaranteed the story was going to keep me interested. Then the next part began, and things happened at a glacial rate, so much so that I wanted to start skimming. I did actually skim some parts that were from David's POV because they felt repetitive to me. The final third seemed like it was making up for the middle, which is why it came off as rushed.

The ending was too neat and tidy. It took the new tech the whole book to creep in and take over everything. Yet, unraveling it didn't take that long. The thing with the journalist, for instance. He needed evidence to pin the blame on the conspirators directly, or so he said. And that was when he had an internal memo literally asking the concerned people to bury galling evidence. Yet when it came to linking the ADHD pills to the pilot tech, all he needed was a quick internet search. Just didn't make sense, is what I'm saying.

Sophie wasn't consistently written. In some parts, she came off as downright creepy. It was okayish when she was a kid and pretended to be asleep while the adults discussed things around her that she wouldn't be privy to, but it became weird when she did similar things as an adult. Also, she made it sound like she was in it for the good of the people, yet in one, she asks attendees of her meetings to mention their pronouns openly without thinking if they'd want to out themselves or not. In some places, she can pull off spy-level heists, and in others, she expects the main chapter of her organization will include her in all their activities.

In any case, I enjoyed this book and would like to read more by its author.

3 sheep

Reviewer: Midu Reads

About the Author:
Sarah Pinsker is the author of over fifty works of short fiction, including the novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road," winner of the Nebula Award in 2016. Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind," was the Sturgeon Award winner in 2014. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Uncanny and in numerous anthologies and year's bests. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French, and Italian, among other languages, and have been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, Eugie, and World Fantasy Awards.

Sarah's first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories was published by Small Beer Press in March 2019, and her first novel, A Song For A New Day, was published by Penguin/Random House/Berkley in September 2019.

She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels (the third with her rock band, the Stalking Horses) and a fourth in the works. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at and

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