The Echo Wife – Book Review

The Echo Wife by: Stuart TurtonSarah Gailey
Published on: February 16, 2021

“All I wanted to do is sting, sting, sting until he fell down swollen and dead.”- Evelyn

If you have ever spent 8 1/2 hours locked in a car ride with a person you absolutely do not like and had to listen to them go on and on about their problems and how every single one of them is someone else’s fault, then you might understand how I felt listening to this audio book. The Echo Wife is told in first person and listening to Evelyn with her barely controlled rage complain about how the entire world has been absolutely awful to her made me almost quit at 15%, 20%, 30%….. I was determined to get through the book and so I agreed with myself to only listen to Evelyn for 30 minutes at a time. Surely that was doable. It wasn’t. 30 minutes slowly dwindled to 10-15 minutes at a time. Sigh.

The premise for The Echo Wife is actually rather intriguing and is the only thing that kept me in the book. But, as a reader I want more. I need something to hold on to that makes me eager to continue in the story. I need something or someone to cheer on. It may not always work out in the end, but I need something. But the Echo Wife gave me nothing. I certainly couldn’t cheer on Evelyn. She enjoys belittling people and making them feel small and powerless. She is incredibly self-absorbed and has zero ability to empathize. I still remember her gloating voice describing Martine as “weak! Weak! WEAK!” I couldn’t root for what Martine and Evelyn were working on through the entire story because everything they did was just wrong on so many levels. Perhaps I should have rooted for them to get caught instead? Probably, but I couldn’t bring myself to care enough for that. And then there’s Nathan.

Nathan – Evelyn’s ex-husband who rather than divorcing and moving on with someone new, he instead secretly clones Evelyn but takes out the parts of her personality he didn’t like and adds new programming instead. His own version of a stepford wife – named Martine. It almost worked out for him, until he and Martine get in a fight and Martine ends up killing him. Oh, the irony – that his perfect version of Evelyn that is designed to cater to his every whim and wish, kills him.

I also had some ‘logical’ type issues with the book. If we were another scifi book that has fuzzy rules I might be able to overlook these questions, but the world the author created in The Echo Wife is full of cloning laws and regulations. Questions like how did Nathan not get caught when he was working on and taking home the clones? Or, why does Martine’s programming allow her to open a house full of moving boxes without seeking permission, but then requires her to seek permission to take a shower?

I know many really enjoyed this story. I wish I had too. But for me, I’m just relieved I no longer have Evelyn’s voice in my ear.

Rating: 1 star