ONE BODY. FIVE MINDS. ONE KILLER.
The Earth’s growing population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.
Alex, Kate, Sierra, Ben and Mike are a commune. They have already spent twenty-five years together, arguing, reconciling, alliances shifting and re-forming. They travel to a Death Park where games are played in which extra lifespan can be gambled like money. The plan is to win time to upgrade their next host body. But then Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.
Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. Is one of them responsible? Or is someone else playing a deadly game? It’s hard enough to catch a murderer. It’s almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them…
This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.
Hi and welcome to my review of Five Minds!
Dearie me, I don’t even know where to begin, this was such a mind-boggling, thought-provoking story!
Five Minds takes us to a future where measures have been taken to curb the population by limiting people’s lifespan. At seventeen, every citizen needs to decide what the rest of their lives will look like, and, by doing so, how long they will last: will it be short and sweet (all the riches, none of the work, but only until 42), rather long but lived in an android body (not requiring any food or drink), a tough life with no fixed expiration date as a worker, or a timeshare with 4 other minds in a communal body for a total of 125 years.
At seventeen, Alex, Kate, Sierra, Ben and Mike chose to become part of a commune, after which artificial intelligence brought them together. They chose a body (Mike’s) and timeslots, because these five minds never ever interact directly: when one is up, the other four are down. Their nickname “schizo” is both apt and wrong: yes, multiple personalities inhabit one body, but no, they aren’t really in there together, although they can leave each other messages. Think of it as roommates always just missing each other and having to communicate through notes left on the fridge.
In a world in which time has become a currency, the so-called Death Parks are immensely popular: people play high-stakes VR games against one another, gambling with their lifespan, gaining years if they’re lucky, dying if they lose. Alex, Kate, Sierra, Ben and Mike have been living apart together for 25 years when Kate gets an offer she can’t refuse: she can help someone out and win 20 years in the process. Alas, when a proposal sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and before long, one of the commune goes missing. And that’s just the beginning…
Five Minds is an intricately woven, high-concept speculative thriller-cum-mystery. It is one that requires your full attention due to its immense world-building, mind-boggling concepts and build-up, but it is well worth your time. With hints of Westworld and Ready Player One, Five Minds is pretty much what would happen if the creators of Black Mirror were to reimagine Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Incidentally, if the people at Netflix know what’s what, they should really pick up Five Minds for serialisation. It has a certain filmic quality and the kind of story that would translate really well to the small screen.
I had a great time with Five Minds, it’s a truly impressive debut, and I keep thinking about it, which option would I pick, would my choice be different now than it would have been at seventeen? If you’re a fan of mind-boggling futuristic thrillers such as Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter or Recursion, Five Minds should be at the top of your shopping list!
Five Minds is out on 2 September in all digital formats, hardcover and audio, with the paperback to follow in March next year.
Massive thanks to Viper Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.