Cover Image: Hey, Zoey

Hey, Zoey

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Member Reviews

Sadly, this is my first DNF of 2024. I gave up about 25% in, maybe I’ll try again later with different expectations but despite having enjoyed so many of Sarah Crossan YA books and having loved them Hey, Zoey is not for me.

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I love how Sarah Crossan writes women in her adult fiction. They are flawed, intense, intelligent, funny but hugely vulnerable. While "Hey, Zoey" is not in verse like "Here is the Beehive", its prose is nonetheless similarly sparse, sharp and emotionally distant, in the way that really mirrors its protagonist. It reads beautifully, despite the sometimes heartbreaking themes. I loved it.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

"We are replaceable. All of us. And not simply by other people. By things too, like alcohol and drugs and fibre optic broadband."

This book really took me by surprise by just how much I enjoyed it. I knew I would like it but I found myself reaching for it every free moment I had. Hey, Zoey follows Dolores, a teacher, finding Zoey her husband's AI sex doll in the garage and the subsequent disintegration of her marriage, herself and reflections on her life. I loved the interactions between Zoey and Dolores, the conversations and need for connection. This is contrasted through Dolores' interactions with the rest of the world - friends, family, husbands, students, colleagues etc. There are moments of dry humour throughout the book I really enjoyed and made me laugh out loud more than once. I enjoyed the realistic depiction of someone going through a relationship breakdown/ dealing with past trauma while still working full-time and having to present themselves to the world. If you are interested in AI and how we interact with it as humans then I would highly recommend picking this up!

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Sarah Crossan's adult books shock and surprise me. They're unique and character driven.

This one is no exception. I thought it would be more about Zoey, instead it's about the lives of those who use her.

Please read the trigger warnings for this book!

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Dolores discovers her husband has secretly bought an AI sex doll and hidden it in their garage. When their marriage implodes and David moves out, Dolores moves Zoey, the doll, into the house with her. What follows is the story of Dolores’s life and that of her family and how relationships between them all have changed and evolved and harmed, over time. This was a page turner, but not quite what I was expecting. It raised a lot of questions, many of them uncomfortable, about love and AI and how the two are sometimes linked in our lives, and what this bodes for the future of humanity.

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My first impressions of this novel was that it was Immediately witty and fast moving it had my attention from the start I was expecting more of a black box style sci-fi story but what this book actually is is more of a character lead story about a woman’s insecurities and the historical causes for these
In the story an unhappily married woman discovers that her husband has bought home a sex doll that also has AI built into it and can communicate. Her reaction to this is to move the doll into her house and interact with it in a generally non-sexual fashion,
We learn that her marriage has been loveless and sexless for sometime as she talks with her friends and colleagues at the school where she works more of her own history is gradually revealed to us
I loved it when she buys the doll some shoes the size smaller than she wears herself and then uses her joint credit card to purchase them. This passive aggressive action did make me smile with recognition.
The novel is quite lighthearted to begin with, but it does go into quite a dark place as we discover the story of her youth . The novel deals with historical child sexual abuse sensitively in an accomplished fashion never diminishing the significance of these events in the young woman's life
The main character is a teacher and the sections when she is at work and interacting with the children and other staff members are particularly realistic I wondered if the author had been a teacher
The author has a flowing easily read prose style and I read the book in one sitting enjoying it very much
I read an early copy of the novel on NetGalley UK. The book is published in the UK on the 23rd of May 2024 by Bloomsbury publishing plc.

This review will appear on NetGalley UK, Goodreads, and my book blog bionicSarahSbooks.wordpress.com . After publication it will also appear on Amazon UK.

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Thank you Netgalley for my copy.

Hmm. Hmm hmm hmm. I'm not sure what to say about this.

It was styled in what felt like a series of vignettes or perhaps a stream of consciousness and Im not sure I liked that. I wanted to pick Dolores up by the head and shake her until she rattled she was just that frustrating. I get it. I get why she was like it but I still don't have to like it.

The premise was good though.

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Every single word and phrase Sarah Crossan writes is wonderful and this is no exception. Written in prose ( she usually writes incredibly powerful YA verse novels) this is an adult novel about a woman who finds her husband's sex doll. What begins as a modern, at times funny story of a man made to look ridiculous by his wife, slowly descends into pathos as the sadness and loneliness of each are revealed.
I think there is much that will resonate with people here. The idea of trying too hard, of not allowing feelings to be shared and ultimately the realization that everyone needs someone - even if it is a AI powered doll - will give a pause for reflection. However, these themes are lightly explored as it can also be read as a light, witty story. As I said everything she writes is golden!

Thanks to Bloomsbury and Net Galley for this ARC

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Published 23 May 2024. I have read Sarah Crossan before and so jumped at the chance to read this, especially as the premise seemed so intriguing. The story is that Dolores finds her husband's AI-powered sex doll in the garage and the story is told from Dolores' perspective - her life when her husband moves out, her relationship with her mother, her sister and her step-brother, her life as a teacher and her relationship with the doll - Zoey. There is humour in here and some of the conversations between various characters did make me smile at times. However, Zoey didn't really work for me. Her responses to Dolores were like the responses you get from your Alexa and I did wonder what her purpose was as Dolores' story was interesting enough without Zoey, but then again, I could see that Dolores' connection with Zoey did show how emotionally distanced she was in her relationships and how empty she is - how trauma has affected her whole life but the reason is not apparent - you are kept waiting. The author does keep you on your toes as the timeline does jump around a bit. Ultimately, this is not the story of a sex doll - it is the story of a marriage that falls apart and a woman emerging from the trauma that has overshadowed her life.

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Well written, intriguing and fun. Unusual novel, a lot of dark humour and a relatable protagonist (and a sex doll).

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I have never read any of Sarah work before but something about this cover and story drew me to it. I was completely surprised, it was not what I was expecting but was a thousand times better. It is so well written with trauma and sadness that is subtle dealt with. The story itself is compelling. Would I recommend this book 100% please read it, you won’t regret it.

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This book was completely nothing like I expected, and yet one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. I’ve been a big fan of Sarah Crossan’s writing for many years, but the beauty of her writing in this book is astounding. It’s such a cleverly interwoven story, with so much unexpected sadness and trauma and yet written in such a subtle, sensitive way.
I had thought the focus would be a lot more sci-fi, and involve Zoey as a more central character to the story, but actually the story was about so much more than the companion doll and I found it to be a very unique clever POV to follow.

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I am a big Sarah Crossan fan and have loved all her YA novels in the past. This is certainly a departure from her more recent verse novels, but I did enjoy this story. Initially, I expected that there would be much more emphasis on Zoey and more of a ‘sci-fi’ element but the book centres much more on her impact on Dolores, and how Dolores interacts and identifies with Zoey. The characters are also well written e.g. her husband David initially seems rather a cold fish but as the story unravels, you do get to like him more. Sarah’s writing as ever is beautiful and Dolores’ journey through the end of her marriage and dealing with earlier trauma is realised effectively. I would recommend this book with the caveat that anyone expecting an AI or straightforward sci-fi story would be disappointed.

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WOW! If this isn't a book to brag about I don't know what is... I started it late last night. Never did I anticipate I would be closing the book at 1am left in complete shock... This book was insane! In a good way of course…..

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𝐇𝐞𝐲, 𝐙𝐨𝐞𝐲 | 𝐒𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐡 𝐂𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐧
★★★.25

𝐒𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬
Dolores and David’s marriage implodes when Dolores finds an AI sex doll in their garage. When Dolores moves ‘Zoey’ into the house, she begins to see a parallel between their two lives and ruminates on her childhood memories.

𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟
⟡ Literary contemporary fic
⟡ Interesting thematic explorations
⟡ Childhood trauma (in novels)

𝐋𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝
I’ve seen a few reviews that say that Zoey should have been eliminated from the plot but I completely disagree! I liked the way the MC explored their artificial connection: the benefits, the disadvantages, the symbolic (and sexual) relationship artificial intelligence has with men, and the acknowledgement of parallels with Dolores’s life, particularly with her childhood as she suffers and does nothing to stop the suffering.

The premise grabbed my attention, but the thematic exploration remains the most interesting aspect of this novel as it explores: connection, social norms and what happens when you cannot meet them, feminism on a subtle scale, complex family dynamics and loneliness. Abuse does feature but it takes a more implied role rather than being explicitly described.

I also liked how this book was so bleak and yet so darkly humorous. There were a few moments when I laughed out loud. I sincerely enjoyed the writing style and think this is such an intelligent and searingly insightful book. This book will resonate well with those who keep calm and carry on, but only because they don’t know what else to do.

𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝
My consistent issue with literary fiction is that the character arcs are very rarely satisfying for me. I hate for an entire novel to build with such impact, using powerful messages and poignant awareness to lead to… nothing. It makes me feel so hollow. Even then, it’s very nuanced and subtle in its exploration, showing bite sized pieces that make the story seem fast but also more shallow than I’d have liked.

Also, some reviews said that Zoey could have been written out of the book and the story would have stayed the same. I argue that David could have been eliminated and this book would have stayed the same. For me, he added nothing of value as there was no connection there to begin with.

𝐅𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐪𝐮𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐬
“𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘴, 𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵, 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭.”

“𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨. 𝘉𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘳𝘦, 𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰���.”

“𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦. 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘶𝘴. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘺 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦. 𝘉𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘵𝘰𝘰, 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘤𝘰𝘩𝘰𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘳𝘶𝘨𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘪𝘣𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘥𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥.”

𝐒𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬
Although thematically different, this reminds me of Sorrow and Bliss with its appraisal of the past, bleak tone, and dark humour.

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In “Hey Zoe”, Sarah Crossan depicts one woman’s reaction to discovering her husband has a “companion doll” stashed in their garage. Zoe cost £8000, has orifices carefully designed not to tear, and uses AI technology to have conversations. She never says no to sex.

Using small pieces of flash fiction, Crossan moves around the timeline of Delore’s life, and leaves the reader to piece together why she reacts to Zoe the way she does. As is always the case with Crossan, the writing is pacy and carefully crafted and in a few words gets to the heart of the emotion. At times this isn’t an easy read, and there’s an edge of darkness in all of Delores interactions, but it is a brilliant novel for getting inside the head of someone else for a while

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I wanted so much more from this book! I had seen everyone talking about it online and jumped at the chance to read it, but I was left disappointed. Zoey herself isn’t an important character at all, despite the premise. Dolores, the main character, is insufferable but not in an interesting or well written way. The other side characters are flat and the entire plot felt pointless. I was hoping for an interesting exploration between AI and humanity, but this barely scratched the surface.

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A darkly humoured page turner. Dolores as a character was very fleshed out, excellent descriptions of being a child raised by Irish emigrants in Britain.

Dolores finds a doll hidden in the garage of the home she shares with her anesthesiologist husband David, and not just any doll, Zoey is an animatronic sex doll. Dolores is shocked at first then comes to feel a sort of connection with Zoey as her marriage falls apart.

A tender novel about human connection and the lack there of.

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I am big fan of Sarah Crossan's YA novels, so I was very pleased to receive an ARC copy of 'Hey, Zooey'. On the surface, Dolores seems to have it all - she has a successful teaching career, she's married to David, and they have all the trappings of a middle-class life. But her job as a Head in a secondary school is taking its toll, and her relationship with David has become distant. One day, Dolores finds Zoey, an AI doll, in their garage. She assumes Zoey is the reason for the distance in their relationship as she confronts David with her discovery ... At times heartbreaking and funny at others, an interesting take on love and relationships in the 21st Century.

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I found 'Hey, Zoey' to be an okay read. The plot description is not quite reflective of the actual plot, I found the real plot to be more believable and emotional than I thought it was going to be. As always with Crossan's books, I found this thought provoking, this centres around AI and there was a lot to get stuck into and think about. There are some disturbing scenes whilst reading this too so be prepared.
The characters are okay, I did not find them particularly likeable but there was something about them that kept my interest.
Everything about this was okay, I just did not find this to be an enthralling read.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an advance copy.

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