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The Hierarchies  By  cover art

The Hierarchies

By: Ros Anderson
Narrated by: Katharine Lee McEwan
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Publisher's summary

In this stunningly original debut novel that will appeal to fans of The Power or Never Let Me Go, a synthetic woman—created solely to serve her human "Husband"—slowly comes to the realization that her Husband is far less invested in her well-being than she is in his...sending her on a harrowing emotional journey of self-realization as she asks herself:

What is love—or consent—if you're programmed to obey?

Sylv.ie is a fully sentient robot, designed to cater to her Husband's every whim. She lives alone on the top floor of his luxurious home, her existence barely tolerated by his human wife and concealed from their child. Between her Husband's visits, deeply curious about the world beyond her room, Sylv.ie watches the family in the garden—hears them laugh, cry, and argue. Longing to experience more of life, she confides her hopes and fears only to her diary. But are such thoughts allowed? And if not, what might the punishment be?

As Sylv.ie learns more about the world and becomes more aware of her place within it, something shifts inside her. Is she malfunctioning, as her Husband thinks, or coming into her own? As their interactions become increasingly fraught, she fears he might send her back to the factory for reprogramming. If that happens, her hidden diary could be her only link to everything that came before. And the only clue that she is in grave danger.

Set in a recognizable near future and laced with dark, sly humor, Ros Anderson's deeply observant debut novel is less about the fear of new technology than about humans' age-old talent for exploitation. In a world where there are now two classes of women—"born" and "created"—the growing friction between them may have far-reaching consequences no one could have predicted.

©2020 Ros Anderson (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"[A] quiet triumph . . . Anderson’s prose—Sylv.ie’s voice—offers a beautiful combination of naivete and wisdom, full of nonhuman puzzlements, off-kilter observations, and limpid poetry.”—The Washington Post 

“A compelling narrative voice—that of Sylv.ie—and a keen regard for nuance make The Hierarchies one of my favorite novels of 2020—one that makes a valuable addition to western science fiction.” —Strange Horizons 

“A masterful, gripping debut . . . While the plot is propulsive and page-turning, The Hierarchies allows Sylvie's incisive meditations on beauty and human nature to shine through. . . . A fascinating take on artificial intelligence. The Hierarchies deserves to be considered a classic of feminist dystopian fiction.”—Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters 

What listeners say about The Hierarchies

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Very Predictable

I struggles to finish this book due to its predictability. The story is not particularly original and the characters aren't captivating.

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Unique view of a possible future.

This was a very interesting fictional account of a possible future, brought to superb life by a very talented narrator.

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Possibly My Favorite Book

I loved this book so much I bought a paper copy after I finished it here. This is the ultimate philosophical feminist story, meant to really make you think. Every twist and turn got me, and made the book better and better. The narration was perfect as well. Ten out of ten, for sure!

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Wish the book was closer to publishers summary

Started out very simple and intriguing - a thoughtful sexbot lives in a husband and wife's top floor. The sexbot is only there to please the husband and has a list of rules, the hierarchies, that she can not break - which includes not hurting humans and putting human needs/wants before her own. She is locked in the room and only the husband interacts with her and the wife knows OF the bot but doesn't love the fact that she's there.

SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD

The book then has the sexbot going back to a factory to get reset, going to a brothel where she makes a BFF and learns how to stitch cloth. And she ends up a few more places. So the book just completely derailed for me.

The husband and wife, who took up the first third of the book, have no significance on the plot. And the hierarchies were used in a BARELY interesting and predictable way. There's no deeper symbolism or frankenstein myth here. The book is written from the viewpoint of the sexbot but her thinking was along the lines of - "oh, this place is gross and dreary but I don't mind because my programming has me not care about this" or "am i supposed to be stuck in this room like a vacuum?” ... but she was programmed to pretty much do JUST that when she's not doing sex things.

If the plot intrigues you, definitely check it out. I don't HATE that I listened to it, I was just expecting something less disjointed with more meaning.

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