Book Review: We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

May 14, 2021 in SFF

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Hello friends! I’m running a teensy bit behind schedule this week so apologies for that! The book I’m reviewing today came out yesterday (13th May) and is a character driven sci-fi where a new technology changes life as we know it. Sounds interesting, right? It really was! So today I’ll be talking about We are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker. Let’s get straight into it, shall we?

Many thanks to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

We are Satellites
by Sarah Pinsker

Publisher: Ad Astra
Date of Publication: 13th May 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: eBook (373 pages)
Rating: ★★★★

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From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them.

Get one – or get left behind.

Val and Julie just want what’s best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when David comes home from school begging for a new brain implant to help with his studies, they’re torn. Julie grew up poor and knows what it’s like to be the only kid in school without the new technology, but Val is terrified by the risks and the implications.

Soon, everyone at Julie’s work has the implant and she’s struggling to keep pace. It’s clear that she’ll have to get one too if she’s not to be left behind.

Before long, Val and Sophie are the only two in the family without the device, and part of an ever-shrinking minority in their town. With government subsidies and no apparent downside, why would anyone refuse?

But Sophie can’t shake the feeling that something sinister is going on behind the scenes and she’s going to do whatever it takes to find out – even if it pits her against a powerful tech company and the people she loves most.

Content Warnings

Injury (leg amputation), drug use and addiction, on-page seizures, sensory overload, PTSD

Book Review

The concept itself is fascinating. In this speculative future, a medical device called a Pilot has been developed that enhances your brain. It’s sort of like the Limitless drug but a permanent version that requires brain surgery. As it becomes more commonplace, those without the Pilot become marginalised. They become discriminated against in terms of education and employment opportunities. In that respect, I thought it was very similar to the education programme in Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I really enjoyed how family is at the heart of this story. Each family member has their own POV so you get to know everyone more intimately. And you see these internal conflicts through different sets of eyes which was really effective. As for the conflict itself, a lot of it stems from the Pilot. Half of the family have the device and then you have Val who doesn’t trust the technology and Sophie who is ineligible because of her seizures. Sophie becomes an anti-Pilot activist and in contrast, David becomes the poster boy for the Pilot programme. So there’s plenty of conflict there between all four characters.

As such, I think that this book will appeal to readers who are perhaps intimidated by science fiction. It reads more like a contemporary or a family drama. Although the books are different in EVERY sense, I’d compare this to They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Largely because they’re both set in future worlds where a new technology has changed how we live (or die) and are character driven. I think that if you enjoyed that or even Klara and the Sun as I mentioned before, then you’ll probably enjoy this too.

Here are a few things that I really enjoyed about We Are Satellites:

  • David’s character arc
  • The conspiracy element
  • Contrast between neurotypical and neurodiverse characters
  • How normalised it was to share pronouns

My only gripe was that I went into this book expecting something different. The synopsis suggests that there’s a more urgent conflict. But it’s actually more focused on interpersonal conflicts than those within society at large. I also would’ve liked a bit more from the conspiracy aspect. But overall, I did enjoy this book and will be picking up more of Pinsker’s books in the future.

Read This If You…

  • Enjoyed They Both at the End and/or Klara and the Sun
  • Prefer sci-fi that focuses on human relationships and technological advancements
  • Enjoy family drama

Will you be picking up We are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. Did you know I have a store*? When you purchase books through my affiliate store, both myself and an independent bookstore will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can even choose to support your local indie with your purchase! 🙂

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