Book Review: Terms of Service
Reviewed by Chika Anene
A shining feat of literary sci-fi in a totalitarian futuristic society
Kim lives in a society largely controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). Everything from the outfits she wears to the food she eats to the people she has sexual relations with is decided for her. In this society, thoughts that involve the individual rather than the collective are considered “selfist.”
Working as an AI trainer at her company’s transit support division, Kim’s job involves training automatons, devices that are incapable of thinking for themselves.
Things are going somewhat well for the main character until she gets herself into a less than flattering situation, which propels her into a new role and lands her in the midst of the very forces that control the society. With this, her privacy and identity have become compromised.
Believe me when I tell you that this world and the tensions within it are going to have you feverishly flipping pages. It might start off a bit slow, but it really picks up when things take a dark turn.
Perhaps what offers the most anticipation in the reader is the sinister way in which things are controlled behind the scenes in Kim’s world. It’s captivating to be in her point of view here as she discovers that everything she thought she knew isn’t quite right.
Kim starts off as a timid and compliant character living a rather monotonous life. But as she encounters these obstacles, she evolves into a more confident and inquisitive individual eager to break down a system that doesn’t benefit the individuals it was created to control.
Her defiance and reluctance to accept her fate, however, grants her a public-enemy-number-one status, and she soon finds herself being threatened into submission.
The premise on which this book is founded is a brilliant one. The terms of service hinted at in the title are really going to get your attention. There are also a number of smart sci-fi details that make this world unique, like the use of “Oneday” and “Twoday” instead of what we call our weekdays.
The worldbuilding is really excellent here with its focus on artificial intelligence. It’s not every day we get to read an artificial intelligence novel from an author who has a PhD in artificial intelligence. The systems within the world really make it clear that Stanfill knows his stuff.
There is an all-seeing, all-knowing entity controlling the masses. Dystopian novels, for me, are often only as strong as those entities. And in this novel’s case, the entity stands up to those in 1984 and Brave New World.
Terms of Service is simply unputdownable. This novel comes highly recommended for those readers looking for a strong and unique AI world.
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia
Print Length: 332 pages
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