Book Review: The Surrogates

May 15, 2010

Surrogates are a vain attempt to improve upon God’s already perfect will.  They represent the worst efforts of men to supercede God and become gods themselves.

The SurrogatesI picked up The Surrogates by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele from the library because I didn’t have the time or money to see the film version starring my old man crush Bruce Willis.  Of course, I finally finished the book a couple of days before the movie became available at the library.  Ah well.

The book is about a world where surrogates (“android substitutes that let people interact with the real world without ever leaving their homes”–jacket flap) are the norm except someone or something is deep frying surrogate circuitry with a command to the owners:  “Live.”

What I Liked

– I love the deeper meanings the text explores about race, gender, and class.  Each chapter ends with media (academic papers, newspaper articles, advertisements) explaining a little bit about the world, which provides context, and that’s what really creates the conversation about the impact of surrogates.  People choose surrogates based on career aspirations, romantic interests, etc.  So a lot of their choice is dictated by whom people expect to see in those roles.  (For example, women who want to be pilots choose male surrogates.)  And, of course, not everyone can afford surrogates, and those people make up their own community (mostly, it seems, made up of religious zealots) who are, for the purposes of the narrative, anti-surrogate.

– The story is fast-paced and easy to follow.

– Character motivations are clear.

What I Didn’t Like

– I wasn’t really a fan of the artwork.  I think it’s well drawn and the moods are well set throughout (and I really appreciate that the chapter ending media is so distinct and slick), but I wanted a way, visually, to see the surrogates or real people marked.  And, yes, I realize the point is that the surrogates are so lifelike, but at the same time, I really wanted there to be a different feel or look applied to really play up the differences.

In conclusion:  Great story with interesting thematic elements that are really thought-provoking.

You May Also Like…


  1. Aarti

    How interesting! I wonder if I can find this book- it would be fun to compare its thoughts on race and gender in a somewhat sci fi-ish setting against Shortcomings, which is firmly planted in today's reality. Bummer about the artwork, but if that's the only negative, I think I could manage!
    My recent post TSS: NYRB Classics!

    • theenglishist

      Yeah, lots of people on Goodreads love the artwork, but I think my stylistic preferences are just different.

      The race and gender stuff is pretty subtle, but it did make me think about how true the surrogates are as a representation of people. What do they really look like? And, more importantly, does it matter?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *