We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen was an interesting Sci-fi thriller. Grace Park has always been close to androids, but how close will things get in space?
All quotes are from an Advanced Reader Copy and may not reflect the published edition.
This psychological sci-fi thriller from a debut author follows one doctor who must discover the source of her crew’s madness… or risk succumbing to it herself.
Misanthropic psychologist Dr. Grace Park is placed on the Deucalion, a survey ship headed to an icy planet in an unexplored galaxy. Her purpose is to observe the thirteen human crew members aboard the ship–all specialists in their own fields–as they assess the colonization potential of the planet, Eos. But frictions develop as Park befriends the androids of the ship, preferring their company over the baffling complexity of humans, while the rest of the crew treats them with suspicion and even outright hostility.
Shortly after landing, the crew finds themselves trapped on the ship by a radiation storm, with no means of communication or escape until it passes–and that’s when things begin to fall apart.
Park’s patients are falling prey to waking nightmares of helpless, tongueless insanity.
The androids are behaving strangely. There are no windows aboard the ship. Paranoia is closing in, and soon Park is forced to confront the fact that nothing–neither her crew, nor their mission, nor the mysterious Eos itself–is as it seems.
“Things out here came with a price – whether you asked for them in the first place or not.”
Nguyen has created an interesting sci-fi world in which androids are apart of our every day lives, but not necessarily welcomed. In flashbacks from Park’s past, we are given pieces of information surrounding wars, riots and Park’s relationships with androids. This does, however, cause the pacing of the story to suffer. We go from the ship, where things are concerning and weird, to Park’s childhood intermittently. These chapters feel drawn out, and border on info-dumping and boring. I didn’t understand the reason for all of this except world building. Realistically, even after reading the book I wasn’t sure. Seeing it come together could have been enjoyable, but it simply wasn’t with this one.
“I can’t tell if I’m still dreaming,” he mumbled. “I don’t know if I ever really woke up.”
The characters were relatively flat; however, I did enjoy watching Park watch everyone else. There is something to be related to when it comes to being the one who observes. I liked that our main character is primarily someone who watches before acts. I also really enjoyed the various personalities of the androids, programmed in or not. They added more variety to the characters. There was a point where some of the characters were easily mixed up because nothing they said or did felt that separate from one another. Conceptually, that starts to add up in the end. However, experiencing it was not fun for me.
“What was love, really? Biology, as she’d said- but also nothing more than a pain in someone’s ass.”
I wanted to enjoy this book. Sci-Fi Thrillers are one of the niche genres I love dearly. But by the time we got to the grand reveal at the end, I was bored. The information felt force fed to me, and it took away from my ability to truly enjoy this story. The pieces of a wonderful book are all there, however, the execution could perhaps use some more work.
“Sometimes collapse is necessary,” Park argued, “to incite change.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.