This is a story of many perspectives, which might feel a little overloaded for some readers, but I thought they all fit perfectly, and offer a comment as well on the fragmented existences we live online ... The book feels like an extended episode of Black Mirror, and certainly has that show’s taste for dark humor and high-concept philosophizing around our tech addiction, though what raises it above another clever-clever slab of science fiction is that its characters are complex and contradictory and real. For better or worse, you care about them. The mirror may be dark in places, but it shines with a more human light. It’s an entertaining read that draws more inventiveness from character development than it does from the fictional technology ... The irony for a book that could be seen to mock self-help culture is that it is, in itself, the kind of story that—in the subtlest of ways—can instruct us, and nourish us, and make us want to live and love a little better.
I loved Katie Williams's debut novel Tell the Machine Goodnight. So much that I read it twice. The first time was straight through — not driven by plot or thrumming action, but in a languid drift across 280-some pages, a feeling like being drunk on a raft in calm water. The second time I dipped in and out, 10 or 20 pages at a swallow. I might read it again when we're done here ... The novel is almost a series of interlinked short stories ... Taken separately, they are little short ditties about life in a future where unhappiness can be cured with a dog or clarinet lessons. Taken in small groups, they form movements. All together, they are a symphony.
Williams does an admirable job of weaving myriad characters’ stories together ... But the novel is at its best when it pushes the technology to the background and turns instead to the emotional mechanics of happiness. Williams is a deft observer of small human details, and in moments when she pinpoints these details, the story shines.