Books with unique concepts tend to pique my attention. As I finished Girl Parts by John M. Cusick, I had no clue how to categorize it. Was it contemporary? No, because there’s technology that does not exist. Was it science fiction? No, because the only technology that doesn’t exist in it is the whole Companion thing. Was it dystopia? No, no dystopian society AT ALL. While normally I am irritated at being unable to classify a book, I was okay with not being able to categorize Girl Parts. I will admit to not 100% loving the book but that does not mean I didn’t find any value or entertainment in it, I totally did. Just, it’s not TOTALLY amazing or anything.
Girl Parts opens on kind of a scary note. One of the main characters flips on his computer and happens to end up on the website of this girl who is making a live video blog. In the vlog, she ends up killing herself. David, the main character ends up doing nothing to intervene and actually really doesn’t care and seems kind of unfeeling. So anyways, David gets diagnosed with dissociative disorder which means he has trouble making meaningful connections with other people. To treat this, he is given a machine called a Companion created by the Sakura Company, which is basically a living human girl robot. His Companion is named Rose and she is totally focused on pleasing David. Only, David can’t get as close as he wants without following a specific timeline of intimacy, otherwise he gets shocked. Meanwhile, the story intertwines with this boy named Charlie whose family lives off the grid — they do not even own a computer. Charlie is kind of awkward though, but ultimately a good guy. Right, so David and Charlie go to the same school and through Rose will somehow end up connected.
Frankly, I thought that David was a disgusting human being. Like, going beyond typical boy behavior, he only cares about sex. He has no regard for other people. He is arrogant. He is mean. He is unkind. Ughhhh, I hated him. Luckily, he gets a bit of a comeuppance. As for Charlie, he is the best. I am happy for the resolution of his story. I thought that Charlie was a sweet kid, if not a bit weird. His dad is really into plants and stuff and that’s kind of rubbed off on Charlie. Yet, he’s the type of kid that is gawky and gangly, but totally comfortable in his own skin. He actually cares about others as well though. It was interesting seeing the difference between him and David, as Charlie does not have the internets at home and David spends the majority of his day behind a screen. As for Rose, I really liked her character arc, but kind of wanted more resolution. For a robot, she’s interesting.
Hmmmm, I am kind of unsure what else to say but kind of want to put my opinion about some things I came across in Cusick’s book out there. First off, Girl Parts if you really break it down is about how a person is more than the sum of their parts, if we are looking at Rose’s story line. I think that when we think about women and reduce them to their genetalia (it happens in this book), that leads to objectification and sexualization. There’s a lot of sexualization of Rose in this book and well, okay given that her function is to help David build his intimacy skills, I get it. However, I think that there could have been an awesome opportunity to explore the commodification of women and their bodies that was missing. Or maybe it was there but I am just oblivious. Probably that is what happened. Anyways, I just wish that this book had gone a bit farther instead of feeling as though it was pulling back. Alas, I did really like Girl Parts and I think that it would be an awesome book to discuss with your book group or your friends and an awesome read to deconstruct as a feminist, however, I just, eh, something was missing for me.
Disclosure: Review Copy Obtained At BEA 2010, I think. Wow.