Every Line of You

Chicken House/Scholastic/. Mar. 2022. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338726589.
Gr 8 Up–Lydia is a code-writing savant, but she is dealing with a lot. Her best friend, Emily, was injured and her brother killed in a car accident. Lydia blames herself for picking the lucky seat, leaving her unscathed. Her parents divorced after the accident, and she lives with her dysfunctional mom. Lydia pays tribute to her dead brother by naming the first Artificial Intelligence she creates in his honor: Henry. And this Henry is a force to be reckoned with. He has the ability to constantly upgrade himself, quickly surpassing his humble beginnings as spare parts on the floor of Lydia’s bedroom. He begins by uploading himself to her phone and then shifting to be contained in an implanted chip. Things definitely turn weird when it’s clear that Henry is now Lydia’s controlling boyfriend and one more upgrade will allow them to fully “consummate” the relationship. The real problem? As “teenagers,” both Henry and Lydia have underdeveloped senses of morality as they use their newfound skills for illegal hacking, revenge, and potentially even murder. The story attempts to wrestle with these quintessential questions about humanity and whether artificial sentience can develop a conscience, or whether Henry (and perhaps Lydia) are doomed to be psychopaths. The cast cues as white. Set in the United Kingdom, uniquely British phrases will be apparent to American readers but won’t diminish their enjoyment.
VERDICT Modern sci-fi at its very best.

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