About The Body Electric
The future world is at peace.
Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.
But not all is at it seems.
Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…
Someone’s altered her memory.
Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.
(Actual rating: 3.5 stars)
What makes you, you? What makes you human? Is it your body? Your ability to reason or to feel emotions? Is it your consciousness? Your memories? Your soul?
In the 24th century, the time period in which The Body Electric is set, science has advanced to the point where these questions are quite relevant. Experiments are under way on artificial intelligence, and the lines between human and machine are blurring. Androids, sculpted and dressed to pass as humans, are utilized as cooks, maids, and home care nurses. Nanobots swim through people’s bloodstreams, enhancing vision and strength, vaccinating against viruses, and allowing data to stream directly to retinas. Special machines provide people a way to slip into a Reverie, a “state of controlled lucid memory recall,” to relive memories and enhance their focus.
“The body isn’t that different from a machine. Humans and androids both run on electricity.”
Ella Shepherd, the protagonist in Revis’ novel, is the daughter of the woman who invented the Reveries and the man who was the leading mind in the field of artificial intelligence. She is also possessor of the unique ability to insert herself into someone else’s Reverie. Not only can Ella share the Reverie, she can also manipulate it, as well as access the memories of the person in the Reverie.
As you can imagine, the government becomes quite interested in Ella’s gifts and commissions her to use her skills to help root out terrorists and traitors. The intelligence she gathers through the Reveries leads her to a group of rebels led by a young man who claims to be Ella’s ex-boyfriend – an ex-boyfriend who, worrisomely, Ella cannot remember. Even more alarming are the secrets Ella uncovers through her Reverie snooping, secrets that cause her to doubt the loyalty of her friends, family, and government and question the nature of her father’s work on androids.
Ella’s internal struggles are the high point of The Body Electric, much more compelling than the external conflicts with the government and rebels. She’s confused, lost, and afraid, forced to question everything in her life, including her own sanity. She can’t rely on her memories and struggles to discern reality from hallucination. It’s great seeing Ella transform over the course of the book – I really enjoyed watching her adjust to the numerous paradigm shifts that are forced on her and piece together the clues to her past, as well as to the work that her father had been doing.
I also liked the setting in The Body Electric. The action takes place in Malta, which is the world capital and seat of the global government in the 2300s. The city’s population is a mix of residents, tourists, and government officials, and the city sports a New Venice tourist attraction, as the original Venice has long since sunk beneath the ocean. New Venice is a curious place, a facade of antiquity powered by cutting-edge technology. I found this play between modernity and “history” really fascinating, and it made the setting stand out from other futuristic, sci-fi books.
Something that I wasn’t crazy about in The Body Electric was the romance. Jack, the rebel leader who claims to have a history with Ella, didn’t really wow me as a love interest. I didn’t dislike him, exactly, but there was nothing that really made him stand out. That being said, he did grow on me over the course of the book, and I liked the tension that resulted from Ella having no recollection of her past relationship with him.
“Science can make a heart beat,” Jack says softly, each word falling on me like a caress. “But it can’t make it race.”
Even though I wasn’t gaga over the romance, I did enjoy reading The Body Electric. It’s a thought-provoking book, and I think it will especially appeal to fans of science fiction.
About Beth Revis
- Complete signed trilogy of the Across the Universe series
- A signed copy of The Body Electric
- An Across the Universe branded water bottle