‘Ensnared’ is Filled with AI and Stockholm Syndrome

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Alainn is deeply protective of her genius father and his inventive nature. Unfortunately, Colin Murphy is perfectly content putting his beautiful daughter and genius son at risk while he gambles and invents robots that rewrite their own ethics programming. When Murphy fails to deliver his latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) specimen to Mr. Lorcan Garbhan, his notoriously reclusive investor, he is headed for a prison sentence. Rose, the AI in question, looks exactly like his daughter, and the AI knows it. Early in the morning, Rose breaks into Alainn’s room and convinces her that she must impersonate a finished AI and take her place so that Colin Murphy can complete his work and avoid prison. She takes the robot’s place and begins life as a companion robot. Garbhan is a disfigured young man, living life alone in a tower that is designed to prevent people, and germs, from making their way inside. Believing he has a compromised immune system, he desires a robot companion to teach him how to interact with other human beings. Thus begins one of the most unique Beauty and the Beast tales I have ever read.

Ensnared is well written, but the book struggles to maintain the concept of a happy ending, even when it doesn’t make sense. Alainn is a prisoner in this skyscraper tower she cannot escape from. Later in the book, her father refers to her falling deeply in love with her captor as Stockholm Syndrome, and Alainn deeply denies it. However, it’s a pretty convincing argument. Ensnared has that same dangerous nature as the Twilight Series. The reader is drawn into the love story and relieved that it is occurring rather than just a horrifying tale of a woman trapped in a tower, but that is where the danger lies. Just like a freaking old vampire committing pretty much every sign of abuse and control over a woman, Lorcan controls every aspect of Alainn. He provides her with designer dresses, demands she eat meals with him, controls her action, even to the point of demanding her arrival at a particular time every evening before dismissing her casually. It’s even creepier that he claims to fall madly in love with her, when he is certain through almost the entirely of the book that she is a robot and not a human being. He wants to marry a robot. COME ON!

Ensnared is designed for an adult audience, but so much of the book falls back on YA techniques and style. It’s a good piece of escapist fiction and entertaining for sure, but the over all feeling of the book just left me shivering and uncomfortable.

Ensnared by Rita Stradling is now available.

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