Anyone: A Novel
“Anyone is a mostly satisfying read that will keep you turning pages into the night.”
Anyone, Charles Soule’s second novel, tells the dual stories of Gabrielle White, a scientist on the brink of curing Alzheimer’s, and Annami, a “flash” prostitute 25 years in the future. In her research, Gabrielle mistakenly transfers her consciousness into her husband’s body, beginning the phenomenon known as “flash,” a technology that gives anyone—for the right price—the ability to transfer their consciousness into the body of another person.
Gabrielle struggles to keep the rights to her research but is locked into a contract with Gray Hendricks, a soulless venture capitalist who will exploit her discovery with Anyone, the wildly successful company that sells the consciousness transfers.
Fast forward to Annami selling her body to the highest bidder on the darkshare, the blackmarket version of Anyone, where people buy time in your body to do things they wouldn’t dare in their own, or even in a surrogate body through the legitimate company. Annami has a goal, that of raising enough capital to buy time in a celebrity’s body, though it’s far from clear why that would be important to her.
Gabrielle struggles against the evil Hendricks, Annami is forced into more degrading and illegal acts, and the future looks very bleak for both as the storylines slowly begin to converge. The resolution is surprising and satisfying, as the ending of any good thriller should be.
Perhaps it’s nit-picking to look for more from a thriller than, well, thrills, but the philosophical nature of the “self” is less explored than might be satisfying: How much of us is contained in the body versus the mind? What might it do to someone to spend time in another’s body, or have someone spend time in theirs? Questions like these are mostly left on the shelf as the storyline races forward. And, of course, it’s de rigueur to color every venture capitalist, corporation, and attorney as greedy and evil, as Soule does in this book, but a little balance, just allowing the people some modicum of humanity, would have gone a long way to making them more believable characters. The technology—that of flashing lights in one’s eyes to facilitate the consciousness transfer—seems a little sketchy as well.
That said, Anyone is a mostly satisfying read that will keep you turning pages into the night. It might also leave you wondering just how good a book it could have been.