A Calculated Life

Anne Charnock
A Calculated Life Cover

A Calculated Life


The author has built an interesting world, with the exact how mostly hidden. Utopia or dystopia? It's the former only for those with means - depressingly like our current world.

It seems the author intended Jayna's revelation to be an aspect of the novel, but the blurb (and most reviews) spoil that. I didn't read either, and thought at first of Jayna as somewhere on the autism spectrum. After the reveal, that idea wasn't far off. Her combination of naiveté and expertise is described well by the novel, mostly told in the first person. Shortly after the reveal, we find out that she lives with others of her kind. Her home life and those relationships are also well done.

The conflict that arises is more of a tipping point. Instabilities arise, and the cause is not especially clear to Jayna (or to us). The novel stepped away from first person at a few points; it would have been more interesting to let the reader know more instead of just moving a plot line forward. The novel has two epilogs, both also first person. One gives a hint of a solution.

For me this was somewhere between 2 and 3 stars. I started reading Dreams Before the Start of Time in 2020, then abandoned it without noting anything specific. This book does not sufficiently drive me to try that one again. That said, I may try her novella The Enclave, set in the same world built by this novel.