Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
“The truth is all around you.”
This book was a very mixed bag for me. In my eyes, it had potential, with a plot unlike anything of its kind, but the way we explore this fell short of my expectations. I’m hoping my review will explain my thoughts in more detail and highlight many positives about the book too. I’m happy to share my review on this blog tour with all these other great reviewers! Make sure you check out their reviews and content posts from the past week.
Thomas P- is exhausted. He’s been travelling for work so much he barely knows where he is. And then, while waiting for a table at a restaurant, he sees someone from his past. Exactly as she was twenty years ago, when they first knew each other. Deeply shaken, he tries to carry on as if nothing happened.
But when it happens again, in a different restaurant, in a different city, Thomas’s world begins to unravel. Haunted by a magnificent black parrot and a past he wants to forget, he becomes paranoid, unsure whether he can trust himself and the world around him.
After he sees another friend he thought he had forgotten, he realises he is lost and alone, and afraid of his own mind. Then an enigmatic woman tells him he is not seeing things but rather his memory has been mined to create life-like androids that are replacing the human race one by one.
And then he is arrested.
Will Thomas resist the mysterious woman and get his life back? Or will he join her cult and take up arms in the fight to save us all?
I’ve admired Davenport’s style of writing ever since reading Escape back in 2019, and this book begins in such a strong and brilliant way. Everything is so descriptive and easy to visualise, and even before we know what’s going on in the story, we get to know enough about the main character to make us curious about what was to come! The pace is excellent at the start and we’re instantly thrown into a great scene – Thomas sees a woman, someone he knew 20 years ago, but the strange thing about her was that she was exactly the same as he remembered her to be back then. Nothing had changed. This was such a great route for the book that I was already looking forward to exploring further! Why was Thomas experiencing these strange things? Were they real or hallucinations? I had so many questions but I was sure these would be answered along the way, and the author had succeeded in making me inquisitive about the book’s plot. A good start!
We begin to flick back to each of Thomas’s experiences in which he sees people he knew from years gone by, and we know that something more serious is happening by this point. Even though I loved the idea of this story, I wasn’t really attached to Thomas as a character right away. I was hoping this would all change as time went on, but I felt like we were really getting to know the situation the character has found himself in rather than the character himself. Maybe this was intentional and maybe we’d understand more about him as the story develops, so I was keeping my hopes up! There was one character that did intrigue me however, a character often described by Thomas as a ‘magnificent parrot’ due to her extravagant appearance. This character was much more memorable and easy to become curious about, and I felt there was so much more about this character to learn.
“I didn’t care how this could be, how this could possibly have happened, but there she was, my Lucy, from all those years ago, right in front of me.”
The book quickly turns unexpectedly emotional, and is filled with sadness as Thomas reminisces about his past. We learn more about Thomas’s life and failed marriage, and I finally started to become attached to this character more as time went on because of how much we learn. This was absolutely fantastic, and if you don’t feel attached straight away like me, I urge you to be patient and give the book a chance – it will come! It’s here where we really start to realise that Thomas has problems; seeing things that aren’t there, not remembering things he’s done and not realising when something is wrong. He acts as though everything is fine when it really isn’t which is worrying. It’s clear he needs a break from the life he knows, and a divorce, losing his father and his busy work life was really taking its toll. I loved the depth we go into in the story here, and hope this would continue to be explored.
I’ll admit, my attention dropped off at some points in the book which was a shame because there were so many brilliant scenes. I think the book gets much deeper than you would initially expect and I sometimes had to go back to the beginning of a chapter in order to give it a second readthrough to make sure I understood what was happening. We know Thomas’s strange experiences are just getting more and more profound, however, and it was this aspect of the book I was keen to grasp, something I really wanted to be explored more. As Thomas sees yet another person from his past, surely we were going to get some sort of an explanation or even progress to the next stage. It sometimes felt we were waiting too long for the story to progress, but it’s a good job I’m patient! I was willing to wait that little bit longer, crossing my fingers for some great plot development.
One aspect of the book I really liked as time went on was just how Thomas seems to be speaking to us, the reader. It created such an unusual experience and we can relate to this character more and more because of it, almost like we’re speaking to someone we know. I felt there was such a big psychological focus in the book too, exploring the actions of Thomas and what’s going on in that brain of his, which helps us to understand the stresses he’s going through. The one thing I was really happy about was one single phone call that was about to change everything, something that might finally explain everything that’s been happening to Thomas and why he’s been seeing people from his past. Who was on the other end of the phone and why did she know about Thomas’s recent experiences? It was clear things were about to become even more interesting!
We’re soon hit with a huge bombshell, the thing I’d been waiting for for so long – it turns out the human race is being replaced by androids. It was a great idea and route to take, but it also seemed a little random compared to what we’d already read in the book. I never expected sci-fi elements in the book, but if done right, it had the potential to be a very interesting route to take for the reader. The shock of all this information on Thomas had been executed well, but to me, it seemed like we were suddenly hit with all this information, and it was a little bit too much to take in all at once. My brain seemed to be shouting, “Slow down a minute, let me process all this!!” However, the tone of the story changed after Thomas learns this important detail; he seemed to analyse things more with a new sense of determination, and I really liked the idea of a different version of himself hanging around, someone he could communicate with at times.
“Life in deep winter is harsh for wild animals, but from a distance they seemed so still, so calm, so perfect that I would have swapped places with them and given up my life in an instant.”
I wasn’t really feeling the back and forth narrative, and it felt like such a great effort at times to become hooked on the story. I desperately wanted things to progress, but it sometimes felt like we were taking one step forward, two steps back. Saying this, I did appreciate what the author was trying to do here and I also appreciated the immense depth we go into. It was just personally a little too much for me, but I also know others may really love it. If you like a book which is quite heavy and requires a good deal of thought, I’d certainly recommend this one to you straight away! There were certain parts of the book that I really did enjoy, however, such as when Thomas is taken for questioning and finds himself in front of a doctor who seems to want to get a better look at his mind – this explored the idea/the danger of androids very well! I began to think about what life would be like if this happened to us, and it was actually quite frightening!
Eventually, we start to get some answers about the things we’ve learnt along Thomas’s journey which I was thankful for, and many aspects of the book were finally beginning to slot into place. Thomas was beginning to understand more about himself and those around him, and once I got my head stuck into all the detail, it did get quite interesting! The description from the author was faultless here, so raw and easy to connect with, and it was sometimes easy to feel these feelings yourself alongside Thomas. His perception of reality and reality itself seem to have been created with ease by the author, and his talent in this radiates through the words used. I felt better about the book after reading this part of the story and just hoped the book would not only dive deeper into this new normal for Thomas, but also end on a satisfying note for the reader. I couldn’t even predict the outcome for Thomas at this point!
Thomas’s admiration for “Juliet” is written well with brilliant description, allowing us to really get inside his mind. However, I had loads of questions about Juliet’s character as time went on, almost questioning her purpose, and I sometimes felt just as clueless as Thomas when it appears she’s been living in his apartment. I thought little details (as well as some of the bigger ones) could have been cemented together a bit better, and often I was thinking why certain details were included in the book without a better explanation. The thought it takes to really understand the book took away my enjoyment a lot of the time, but the parts that were pieced together well were brilliant to read. I was so torn with my views on this so far, but I still thought the book’s finale could end strongly if approached in the right way.
I felt there was so much more the author could have explored with the android aspect of the book, and in some ways, I felt like I was reading two very different stories that I wasn’t sure went together as well as the author had expected. There wasn’t enough about the androids taking over in my opinion, and the book focused much more on Thomas’s story (which was expected) more than this – it made me question whether the androids were even needed to make this book great, as I think I would have enjoyed hearing about his life without the more complex addition. Hearing Thomas make sense of everything he was going through was done well and it’s clear this is where the talent of the author lies. I knew this would be consistent until the end, but I felt like I’d need something with a bit more oomph to make me completely sold this far in.
“I was frightened so I put the blanket over my shoulders and rocked back and forth, but it didn’t warm me up because the cold was coming from within.”
The insignificant details seemed to be explored more than the important ones for some reason at some points, such as describing what was going through Thomas’s head whilst a phone rang, (there were almost 5 pages of the story purely about phones while it was ringing!) but there were also stronger parts to the ending of the book. It was quite saddening seeing just how Thomas started to drift away from the person he once was, not recognising himself in the present day anymore, but the possibility that he may be able to help save the world forces him to step up and play hero. Again, I would have loved to have seen this aspect more in the book, but it wasn’t meant to be. I was instead thinking of how this book could potentially end on a cliffhanger and whether a sequel could help me grasp exactly what was going on here.
The ending of the book did intrigue me as Thomas finds himself in a completely different place to what he could have imagined, with other people exactly like him. It felt as though he’d become a prisoner in order to help the human race, with no idea what he was getting himself in for. A new group of people needed to get ready for an attack on some “dark force” to save everyone else, which did seem like it could get exciting at this point – however, just when this point arrived, we were also at the end of the book! It was the beginning of something new altogether and exploring this further would have worked much better in my opinion. Even though things are tied up pretty well, I was left with more questions than answers and wasn’t even sure what was real and what wasn’t. Whether there is another book in the works or not, I did think a series would have helped to solidify this book and potentially help readers connect with it more.
This book is the beautifully described story of a man trying to remember why he ended up losing everything but himself. I wanted to love this so badly, the idea of androids taking over the human race is something that really appealed to me (and I absolutely LOVED playing Detroit: Become Human) but I really struggled to get into the story enough for it to have made an impact on me. It felt like two completely different stories were competing with each other, and I unfortunately struggled to make a solid connection between the two. In my eyes, it needed more to cement the book together and it just felt as though it was lacking that something. I do love the way this author writes however, especially having read another of his books, Escape, but this one just didn’t do it for me this time round. I’d still be interested to read more of his work in the future!
Thanks so much to the author of the book, L. A. Davenport, and Heather at Overview Media for my copy and place on the blog tour! You can take a look at The Nucleus Of Reality Or The Recollections of Thomas P- for yourself over on Amazon. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter for more updates on future work!