REVIEW: Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin

Friday, 15 May 2020

REVIEW: Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin banner graphic

They've infiltrated homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, the streets of Sierra Leone, town squares of Oaxaca, schools in Tel Aviv, bedrooms in Indiana. They're not pets, nor ghosts, nor robots. They're real people, but how can a person living in Berlin walk freely through the living room of someone in Sydney? How can someone in Bangkok have breakfast with your children in Buenos Aires, without you knowing? Especially when these people are completely anonymous, unknown, untraceable. Trusting strangers can lead to unexpected love, playful encounters and marvellous adventures, but what if it can also pave the way for unimaginable terror?

I have to be honest here: Little Eyes was a cover pick. Those cute, fuzzy pandas were just too hard to resist. Unfortunately however (or perhaps, fortunately for the marketing team in this case), the phrase do-not-judge-a-book-by-its-cover has never been more apt. That is because Samanta Schewblin's novel is about the compulsivity that comes with new technology; how we are so quick to jump in without realising the true consequences behind our impulsivity. We want fame, to be known, even to be watched, but we don't understand that plight's repercussions.
I do not know what I thought I was getting, but it was not this (miles from it, in fact). And, though I remain put out by the fact that I did not like this novel enough to put a copy of it on my shelves, I couldn't help but become fascinated by questions that it brought up after I finished reading it. Like, is Schweblin's concept of technology so different from the kind of panoptic attention people gain from reality television shows? Those cameras film all the time, span the world, put you in the living rooms of people you have never met - and, unlike me and the girls sitting down with some cocktails and a cheeky episode of Love Island, some of those people do not come to screen with good intentions.
People gain power from watching (we have seen that even in the last few months with the case of Caroline Flack) and, though everything seems cheery on the outside, we still have no idea how much power that watching holds.

star rating: two stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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