Blog Tour: Sunny, Colin O’Sullivan

Book Review: Sunny, Colin O’Sullivan


Science Fiction: Sunny, Colin O’Sullivan

Blog Tour, December 18, 2023


I love it when a writer takes a familiar trope and completely revitalizes it. Colin O’Sullivan does just that in his novel, Sunny.


Susie Sakamoto is definitely not sunny. She is buried in a deep depression, self medicating with alcohol, staying alone in her house mourning the deaths of her husband and their son in a plane crash. That is to say, she is basically alone. Her “homebot,” named Sunny, is there with her. All. The. Time.


Sunny is governed by a relatively sophisticated AI that allows it to respond to human commands within certain parameters. It can even exercise a limited amount of independent action, choosing which room to vacuum in the absence of instruction, deciding which meals to cook without being told. Its job is to make Susie’s life easier.


She hates it.


Susie despises the cold shell and the toneless voice. She loathes the way it cleans everything so perfectly. She doesn’t trust it, its motives, its real intelligence. She blames it, indirectly, for the plane crash that killed her family. The plane was piloted by an AI, and she suspects that the AI may have intentionally crashed the plane.


But that’s crazy. AI’s have to obey their owners. Robots can’t rebel, can’t feel, can’t act in opposition to their commands. They are supposed to protect humans, to prevent humans from doing harm to themselves. Susie knows all of this. She does not believe it.


Without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say that Susie becomes aware of facts that support her suspicions. And when Sunny and the AIs become aware that Susie is aware, well, Susie’s troubles have just begun.


Colin O’Sullivan writes like he is trying to stem, or start, a tornado with his words. They pour out in torrents. The plot takes shape in an avalanche of words that can barely slow down long enough for some poor punctuation mark to jump in and try to get someone’s attention. From the start, we see how deep Susie’s despair is. Her loss, her longing, her utter disdain toward Sunny and other AIs have brought her close to losing control. As many in both fiction and life have discovered, alcohol may numb the pain but swallowing a depressant does not cure depression. 


O’Sullivan’s prose is breathless and almost intimidating. He starts running from the start, covering Susie with an excitement that belies her morose mood. Having more than once fought the “Noonday Demon” of depression (the title of an amazing memoir of a man’s depression), O’Sullivan’s descriptions were almost too much on point. He captures the agony, the lethargy, the emptiness, the mood changes, the sundry and sometimes contradictory symptoms that fall under the DSM descriptions of this mental illness.


As intense as his prose is, it is also lyrical and moving. It’s something that should be experienced rather than described. He sweeps you into the middle of Susie’s life, surrounds you with the loss and turmoil and the insufferable presence of the “other,” and takes you on a journey that is terrifyingly realistic.


If you think your Roomba intends to rise above its station, well, you may be right.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Sunny, provided so we could give an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.



Book Review: Sunny, Colin O’Sullivan

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