In the not-so-distant future, the world struggles with a severe resource scarcity issue. Electricity is preserved in every way imaginable–from automated self-driving cars to the absence of street lights to meters inside every household. Resources are allocated based on how much an individual contributes to society. Sick? That’s unfortunate but less resources for you. Intelligent? You better get a well-paying job, and then we will help you. The system is broken and unfair, leaving empathy behind in the wake of a algorithm that decides who lives and dies.
After a tragic accident, Matt is left to take over for his father and care for his mother and younger brother Kevin. His mother is sick, though, and no one seems to want to help the woman. So, Matt and Kevin embark on a dangerous mission to find someone who will. They’ll test the limits of their own relationship as well as learn who they can and can’t trust. But can they save their mother?
I love the world that Wynyard has created. It’s a wonderfully realistic dystopia with believable reactions from the humans who live in it. From the get-go, Wynyard demonstrates the ability to ask the hard questions. He really doesn’t shy away from any social commentary through out the story. You’ve got the very personal age-old trolley problem (save the one or save the many), which is one of my favorite issues to read about, and then you’ve got larger societal issues like “Who gets to decide who lives and who dies?” What I also enjoyed was that the answers weren’t always spelled out for you! Wynyard leaves a little room for you to figure it out for yourself.
The characters, while I mentioned above that they have believable reactions to the world they live in, fell a little bit flat for me. In the beginning, I had no issues. The “older brother taking care of the younger one” gave me very strong Hunger Games feelings, reminding me of Katniss and Primrose, and it sat a very high standard for the rest of the novel. As I continued reading, though, I found myself struggling to justify the actions (specifically Kevin’s) of the characters. More than once, I was surprised, and not in a good way, by the things they were doing. I wasn’t convinced that they had rhyme or reason or even the personality to act the way they were acting. That’s not to say that I wasn’t interested or connected to them. I just felt as though I knew them better than that.
Overall, this was definitely a fascinating and engaging read. I have no regrets about picking it up, even though I had some issues with the characters actions. Readers of the dystopian genre, or even lovers of intense social commentary, will enjoy this book.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Pacing: Rather fast!
Intended Audience: A
Content Warnings: Terminal illness and death.
You can purchase The Humane Algorithm here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09824JWQD