Published September 4, 2018
A taut, philosophical mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.The thing that ran through my mind the most while reading this book was, WTF WTF WTF?!? This sci-fi story is a thriller, but not in the typical action-packed sense. It's a character-driven, atmospheric, and psychological thriller.
We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.
In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won't have a chance to miss him, because she won't be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.
Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale. - from Goodreads
Junior and his wife Henrietta ("Hen") live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. One day, Terrance, a representative of OuterMore, a quasi-government organization that is researching space exploration, visits their farm and announces that Junior has been entered into a lottery to be a part of the expedition to the space station. Some time later, Terrance returns to inform Junior that he has been chosen. The trip could last years, but Hen won't be alone back on Earth - OuterMore will provide her with a very familiar companion.
One of my first thoughts when reading was, well, this seems unfair - Junior didn't ask to be part of this expedition, and now there's a chance he could be taken away from his home? What if he doesn't want to go? The lottery process takes so long that it's actually a couple years before Terrance comes back to tell Junior he's been chosen, so now he's been stewing about it for all this time. Then once he's been chosen, the process to prepare him and Hen for the mission starts, and things get even weirder.
In the midst of all this, we have three major characters. Junior is the narrator; he's a pretty simple guy. He loves his wife, loves his home, goes to work everyday. Hen was not super-likable. There were several times she attempted to tell Junior how unhappy she is in their life together, how she feels smothered by him, how she wants to see more of the world, but she would never come out and say she wanted to leave him. And then there's Terrance. It was hard to know what to make of him, to know if I could trust him. He's so invested in helping Hen and Junior prepare for the mission, but his methods were strange.
Just when I was wondering how this would all work out, boom - MASSIVE twist I didn't see coming! It totally changed the way I looked back at the story. I really liked the ending of the book, too - even though it felt slightly heavy-handed, for me it was the only logical conclusion. I loved the writing; it was very straightforward, but also had an eerie and ominous undertone to it. If you're looking for a sci-fi story that's a little different, definitely give this one a try!