A young girl tries to cheat death with a computer virus.
Sunday is writing a computer virus that will allow her dad to live forever. She records everything he says, then transcribes the recordings, then embeds the transcriptions in code that will spread from system to system—forever. In the meantime, Sunday’s dad is dying of cancer. Every day, Sunday, her mom, and her younger brother go to the hospital to visit him. That’s where Sunday makes her recordings. The virus is the most interesting thing here, but this is no Transcendence: nobody’s consciousness gets uploaded to a hard drive. Instead, Sunday and her family grieve; Sunday and her brother grow closer; their mother recedes into her own sadness; and the virus gradually comes along. Comeau’s (One Bloody Thing After Another, 2010) novel is short and spare, with chapters that rarely last more than a few pages. The writing is blunt, slightly truncated, in Sunday’s narration. “I thought this was going to be easy,” she tells us. “I would write down my father’s words, and he would live forever. But the more I record, the more I realize I am missing.” Comeau resists sentimentality, and, given his subject matter, that’s no small feat—but, given that same subject matter, he can’t be entirely successful. Unfortunately, the work has the slightly flattened aspect of a YA novel. Plus there’s the inescapable fact that this subject matter is well-traversed: computers or no computers, parents die, and they’ll go on dying.
Despite sympathetic characters and a crisp narrative style, Comeau’s latest seems to defy innovation.