Book Club: July: The 7.5 Thoughts About Evelyn Hardcastle

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by flatearthpandas, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Thanks to everyone for participating! Special thanks to Fireblend for his work on the polls and data and Dr. Monkey for co-hosting the conversation.

    We've all read the book. The idea here is to increase our understanding of it as best as possible through conversation. There's no guarantee that the book is great, but we chose it collectively. Let's wring it for everything we can. Discussion will start at 1pm GMT on July 28th. Please enjoy
     
  2. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    Whoa!

    :shitpost:
     
  3. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    I remember how this discussion went 5 days ago, enjoy yourselves!
     
  4. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    *grips chess piece*
     
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  5. CaptainNuevo

    CaptainNuevo MDTLA Enthusiast
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    Hi where can I buy this book?
     
  6. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    Your local McDonald’s would be the best place to start.
     
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  7. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    Did Anna deserve to leave Blackheath?
     
  8. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Does the method of releasing prisoners even really pretend that those who leave might deserve it? In that respect, as much as anyone.

    As far as it goes, Anna seemed to be fine though.
     
  9. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Oh, by the way, about 1PM GMT. We are open for business. Monkey and I will be co-hosting the discussion which means we'll try and inject some life if it starts to wane. Everyone feel free to jump in, don't worry about me
     
  10. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    I think the end feels off, I was expecting the explanation, if given, to be some curse, nightmare or anything more in the realm of personal stuff. Instead the world-level actors revealed near the end feels uncalled for and the punishment/forgiveness/redemption themes taken out of nowhere. I remember Aiden speculating of being in hell or purgatory, but that isn't nearly enough.

    To directly answer your question, in any case she should had gotten life imprisonment in a high security prison instead of put into a vr torture chamber, showing that their captors are trash too

    In any case, I think the end executes it themes poorly and cheapens the overall novel. I wondered myself if it was an attempt at world building to make sequels(that should be a totally different genre than whodunit, probably)
     
  11. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    It wasn't intended to be a torture chamber, to be fair. Aiden and Daniel turned it into one for her. It had the potential to be a pretty mellow prison, at least by certain standards
     
  12. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    If you trust Aiden when he says she's not the same person, of course. The Annabelle that committed those crimes was tortured for decades to the point of non-existence, and a different person lives in that body.

    Their method of "rehabilitiation", making someone solve a murder to atone for their own crime, did not make sense to me. What about solving a murder mystery makes you regret your actions? That part wasn't explained and taken at face value by Aiden.
    Also, the "game" was already flawed when the plague doctors started bending its own rules so someone couldn't leave it. It's just a weird way to punish criminals instead of a normal prison, a mix of a Danganronpa game and a Black Mirror episode, neither really practical.

    ---

    Near the middle of the book, I started being afraid that the story would end in a perfect loop; that by solving the mysteries of tomorrow Aiden was creating the mysteries of yesterday and he'd end up killing Evelyn because he was meant to. I'm very glad that it didn't go that way.
     
  13. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    I also got Black Mirror-ish vibes at the ending lol, and agree with most of what has been said. I agree with the rehabilitation part making little sense (I very much doubt they designed the system with what happened to Anna in mind - i.e. pretty much becoming another person instead of actual rehabilitation). I could accept the "give something back to society" aspect of forcing inmates to solve unsolved crimes but yeah I don't see how a criminal solving a crime absolves or rehabilitates them. But hey I could accept Danganronpa's story so I'm fine with this. It becoming a loop, being a dream or something like that would've been more frustrating to me by a long shot.
     
  14. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Oh and to answer TP's question
    I'd say so, she was a different person by the time the events of the book take place, although the book does want us to see some of original Anna after that reveal about her past life. I'm pretty sure at some point Aiden suggests to himself that her previous self explains some of her actions throughout the week.

    Also man I hope the plague doctors have a good insurance plan. Wonder if they're unionized.
     
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  15. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Kind of weird to solve crimes for which no justice can really be had in a simulation where somehow the jailers don't know what the actual answer is.
     
  16. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    I chose to believe that the plague doctor's superiors, the ones that built the vr space, do know everything that happens in it, but the plague doctor's job description is only to follow a single person in it; that's why he didn't know how Evelyn died.
     
  17. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Eh. I have enough suspension of disbelief for this part.
     
  18. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    What do you think of the characterization of the book as a VN? I can see the parallels drawn between it and something like DR, but it kind of doesn't get there for me because we don't actually have to solve anything.

    On that topic, how much did everyone actually solve?
     
  19. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    I didn't attempt to solve while reading, probably the only thing I "predicted" was was something being wrong with Daniel. IIRC there were a handful of chapters were if you do the math the number of hosts don't match, as the MC comes to realize in lylo

    I think that is the single most interactive aspects of the book and was really well done
     
  20. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    I strongly agree with this.

    There was obviously something supernatural going on in the story with the body jumping, quasi time travel, the rules and seemingly omniscient Plague Doctor. But the way it was brought to a close did not give the story a satisfying conclusion.

    Who can really say if Anna deserved to leave Blackheath? Other than judging Blackheath as a punishment and whether anyone deserves that there isn't much to Anna. We already know Aiden has lost his sense of self. He can't remember if he has a family let alone a murdered sister. Does Anna know what she has done? We know that some character traits of the hosts are put on Aiden, did the host Anna is in have a kind personality making her rehabilitation not really her own.

    The conclusion to the Aiden and Anna and the whole premise is wholly unsatisfying although I did find the overall murder plot to be intriguing enough. Like a Poirot or Marple plot.
     
  21. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Yeah I honestly didn't put much effort personally into solving the murder "before time". Having read the book I don't even know if that'd be possible, and I'd much rather be surprised by the plot twists and the drama than going through some revelation I already figured out (again, I don't think you even could here). The Daniel thing that turm mentions also happened for me, but it was along the lines of "Huh, I don't know if I'm gonna buy Aiden becoming Daniel in such a short timeframe", specially after Daniel kills uh was it Michael? I expected something crazy to happen in the second-to-last host for that transition to make sense up until it was revealed he wasn't actually a future host :P
     
  22. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    The hardest part to believe, for me, was the final reveal that Madeline was in fact Evelyn. The way she spoke at the end, twirling her metaphorical moustache, was soapy/cartoony/scooby-dooy.

    I think the reason people mentioned it's similar to a visual novel is because you experience the same events through different points of view, akin to routes in a VN. I could totally see a game telling this kind of story.
     
  23. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Speaking of games https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/...luenced-the-seven-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastle

    Really interesting-longish article, this part I thought was of interest:

     
  24. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    There are numerous things in the plot that make the murder unsolvable. Here are a few that rankled me.

    The strychnine as the murder weapon for multiple murders comes out of nowhere. The author says it is obvious Bell brought it but nothing about that seems obvious to me. Then the business of the firing pin of the silver pistol being filed down, maybe someone else can enlighten me but that pistol was Dickie's then stolen by Derby, then taken by 'Evelyn', then picked up and immediately given to Michael Hardcastle. When and how did the firing pin get filed down? Ravencroft saw it fire in his day.
    The author deliberately hiding the question which had the answer "all of them". Aiden is the one who asked Cunningham to ask the cook the question but seemingly Aiden never feels enlightened by the answer he receives as Derby until the very end. In fact he seems unable to remember the question he asked.
     
  25. rac

    rac whatever

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    when they described the game as a sort of sentence i couldn't get black mirror out of my head and im glad it didnt go into vr like tech to explain anything

    in any case i dont think it has anything to do with tech, i mean how would the plague doctor trap silver tear in the loop?
     
  26. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    In the TV adaptation they'll show him open a chest hidden away somewhere in the mansion, revealing a computer terminal. Then he'll hack the access roles for Silver Tear obviously.
     
  27. rac

    rac whatever

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    not enough truffleshuffles in the world for this one
     
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  28. rac

    rac whatever

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    it sort of did since bell and aiden both don't know who they really are right?
     
  29. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    Something else that bothere me. Is the person occupying Daniel Coleridge a murderer? Why is Silver Tear helping him? Is he a less detestable murderer than Annabelle?
     
  30. weemadarthur

    weemadarthur Mad as in angry, or mad as in crazy?

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    Agreed on the ending being unsatisfying.

    Unlike Fireblend I can’t get past the fact that it could not have been programmed. The programmers inherently included personality elements, intelligence stats, physical handicaps....but didn’t know who committed a crime? But still allows a You Win screen when meeting unknown requirements? Not possible.

    Which leaves it as a prison of psychological torture, where the inmate is not intended to solve anything or reach end game, but to have their lifetime wasted as their body ages, while the State can pretend it doesn’t use the death penalty and is above that sort of thing. Decades of deliberate torture isn’t better though.
     
  31. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Daniel is really the only thing I really caught. I can't remember exactly when but it I think it was also around the murder. Not all the details were available but some of the signs are there for the broader strokes. Medicine getting stolen, gold being there to redo portraits, something going on in the kitchens, etc

    I was really hoping there would be a second loop halfway through but the overall pace wasn't bad.
     
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  32. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    Millicent mentioning that Thomas was the only good-looking Hardcastle child and then her epiphany moment when the two pass by the ballroom..
    Smart lady lol

    Did Daniel and Anna enter Blackheath at the same time? If they did, it's safe to say, Daniel is past the point of being helped. Not that Blackheath is a valid place for rehabilitation, but the man is still unhesitatingly brutal.

    Anna may have lost her memories, but does that truly change a person's nature? then again, we know nothing about her before Blackheath. It could have been environmental troubles or an awful upbringing that caused her to become a monstrosity in the past.
    the mystery murder method in itself doesn't make sense for rehabilitation lol if they went that route, there should be standards to uphold besides just solving the murder to be released.

    then again, the people in charge did say they never intended for anna to leave. so, there is a lot of shadiness and leeway to the program.
     
  33. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    It's not a loop because though it seems Aiden is doing things in the present that he saw being done in the past, he has the ability to break the loop if he wants to, like when he ordered Derby to stand still so the pool scene had a different ending, or when Davies wasn't tortured making Gold wake up normally and not slash his arms.

    ---

    As a sidenote, I wish there were more moments of Aiden relying on the future to make things happen. Him wishing the blackmail letter into existence for Cunningham was a really smart trick.
     
  34. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    I was hoping for this to be used more too until I saw that looking for Cunningham's secret was a multiple day chore, and concluded that using it more would turn it into a deus ex machina
     
  35. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    Also, something I think I missed:

    During day 1 Sebastian sees a couple? Or at least two persons walking into the forest when he was near the stables (I think). One of them saw him at a distance and greeted him with a hand signal

    Who where they? I don't remember it being addressed
     
  36. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    I thought he was the last to get there, but I am not sure

    It was the plague doctor who said that blackheath was so horrible a punishment it took a span of years to get another prisoner other than anna/aiden, iirc
     
  37. rac

    rac whatever

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    interesting
    so daniel is there to show us how much anna has changed
     
  38. Zippedpinhead

    Zippedpinhead I'm a wee bit mad at Weemad

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    Did aiden deserve to leave?

    Did Anna?

    I feel like the scenario was impossible without th multiple viewpoints. With out time as almost everyone (with the exception of the doctor, whose existence changes aiden narrative)
    I have more thoughts but i have to drive more
     
  39. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    I don't think that is ever positively revealed. It could have been Evelyn/Madeline and Peter Hardcastle taking a walk before she poisons him.

    Certainly it is not Aiden in any of his guises.
     
  40. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    but the problem I have is that whoever Daniel is has only been there for the day and the plot sets out that Coleridge is intending to take over Stanwin's blackmailing business before the time loop starts. It is for certain that Daniel Coleridge is a immoral person. And we see as Aiden spend more time in each successive host he loses a bit of himself. If he had only had Derby as a host how long could he suppress Derby's urges to rape?

    Can we blame the person inhabiting Daniel Coleridge for being overtaken by his host? There is no true way to know what the real personality of each character in this story is.
     
  41. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    Definitely agree with @Pedro , @Fireblend , and @rac that this felt really strongly like a certain Black Mirror episode just drawn out and had added complexity. Think I'm against the crowd on this one so far but I loved everything about this story? I was actually worried that the power or reason behind this trap was going to be some sort of nonsense magic powers and I really appreciated it being a more 'human' answer. We don't get answers as to how this works, how the body-swapping works, whether they are time travelling or in a simulation, etc. but I don't think we need it? They aren't terribly relevant to the story. All we really need to know is laid out for us: humanity outside of Blackheath is so advanced that they can create this scenario as a simple punishment for people. I want to say the book mentions that you can travel instantly around the world too but I'm not super sure on that.

    Either way, I did like this as being laid out as a punishment. It does unfortunately breakdown as you go higher up the 'crime' list though. Like this being a punishment for a petty thief. Have them go through this and solve a crime themselves thus not only finding the real criminal but also repaying their debt to society. In a weird suspense of disbelief it kinda works, I guess. But then you go up to Murderers, Rapists, and in Anna's case, Terrorist/Torturer/Murderer then it all falls apart.

    But that leads into my favorite question that came from this whole story: is Anna the same person she was before? Does Anna, having no recollection of herself outside of this place, deserve to be punished for something she has no memory of ever doing?

    Plague Doctor does mention that Blackheath is made for the worst of the worst criminals and only two were ever bad enough to make it in. Considering Anna was a terrorist who murdered and tortured people I'd imagine that whoever Daniel is has to be on a similar level if not worse.

    So this is kinda why I love this book so much is because it asks this question. It doesn't go terribly deep into it though.

    What makes a person? Is it the body that makes a person who they are? Is it their memories? Is it their personality? Was it right for Anna (and in some extent, Daniel) to be tortured in this way for 30+ years with little-to-no hope of ever leaving? Especially considering they did not remember who they were before all of this?
     
  42. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    Two other thoughts I had about this book as I was reading.

    This story would make a kickass TV show.

    The book realllyyy glosses over the fact that Aiden entered Blackheath with the sole purpose of torturing/killing Anna and he accomplished that task for who knows how many years.

    I want to say the Plague Doctor mentions this in the book towards the end. Blackheath is basically a no-win scenario unless you broke the rules. Which considering this is all a sort of rehabilitation it makes sense. The world hates Anna and doesn't want her free, we even see this as Silver Tear breaks the rules to come and help Daniel try and stop Aiden/Anna.

    Anna and Daniel were never meant to leave Blackheath at all. Aiden coming in kinda fucked it all up.

    The book mentions that Aiden's personality was clear when he was in Sebastian and faded as he jumped from host to host. Since Daniel and Anna never jumped I'd assume that their personality is what we see in the book itself.
     
  43. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    1. We don't know it was a computer simulation
    2. We don't know how many aspects of the simulation were under control by humans

    Anyway:

    • Let's say that the universe is deterministic and free will does not exist. Given the state of all particles in the universe at moment X, there exists a formula that can determine the exact state of all particles in the universe at moment X+1. This accounts for human consciousness, weather systems, every biological process, etc.
    • Let's say that I build a machine that can receive as its input the state of all particles in the universe at moment X, and then playback "existence" beginning from that moment.
    • Let's say that the only way of parsing this playback in a way that is comprehensible is as an active participant within the simulation, because the level at which the formula operates is useless for practical answers i.e. the formula tells you where each particle is going to be next, but how do we turn that level of information into knowing who killed Evelyn Hardcastle? A human has to be there to interpret what's happening in the system "at human level".
    • Let's say that humanity gains access to this technology from aliens or by accident or something like that, because the level at which civilization would have to be to get to this point is pretty impressive.
    • The aliens or time-travelers or whatever didn't share their debugging tools and the whole thing is effectively a black box so you can't just noclip through the level or try to render it through anything other than a human's consciousness.
    • Edit: Actually, we could also say that doing something like no-clipping or observation of the system from outside effectively destroys the simulation as it is supposed to be an accurate depiction of a reality and it has to conform to the laws of physics for it to be reliable, so it can only be "experienced" in a meaningful way by human consciousnesses being injected into it. So maybe the "debugging tools" can't be developed at all.
    Then we add some techno-babble personality-implantation component I guess, and there's your simulation*! :D no need for programmers to include all that stuff manually and enough of a black box to (barely) justify the plot of the book.

    There was no win screen, the Plague Doctor had to be satisfied with the answer for people to get out, and he even accepted an answer that was wrong/not complete initially.

    It's hard to judge the system in this scenario because it's explained that this one in particular was designed for exactly that, to be a permanent torture chamber for Anna that couldn't be solved, under the guise of her receiving a "fair chance at rehabilitation" like everyone else in the system. I agree with those in this thread that have said that the principle of solving crimes as a way of rehabilitation makes little sense, but the only real example we have at the system in action is Blackheath which *is* intentionally unfair and intended to be permanent. So who knows, maybe the other "chambers" make sense.


    *: No I'm not adding this to the vote tool.
     
    #43 Fireblend, Jul 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
  44. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    I don't think Aiden's personality diminished linearly. Some were just more powerful characters than others. Derby has by far the most effect on him where as Gold, the final host, is one of the least.

    Re-reading chapter 39 it does seem like the number of hosts has an adverse effect on Aiden. That he has lost himself due to jumping around and any more than 8 hosts and he would be gone completely. So maybe we can assume that Anna and Daniel are in full control but it is not too explicit that it is indeed the case.

    Aiden losing himself seems to have redeemed him. Forgetting his sister and family has meant he no longer has the anger and want to punish Anna for her crimes.

    The fact Coleridge is a terrible person before the loop starts leaves questions about hosts effecting the actions of our characters. It would have been more effective if Coleridge was widely considered a decent person but that personality had been overtaken by the criminal. That way we could be sure that Anna's rehabilitation is her own.
     
  45. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    I'm pretty sure it is intended to be read as a progressive loss of control on Aiden's part vs. his hosts. Him diverging from Gold's path at the end is literally him "beating" said loss of control in order to deliver the answer. Presumably giving in to his hosts' personalities doomed him before, no?
     
  46. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Oh and I agree @Sawneeks it would be a great TV show. In the interview I posted above the author says there are plans for it:

    I imagine it as a (BBC) Sherlock-like show, bullshit twists and unearned melodrama included. Someone call Mark Gatiss and Steven Mofatt.
     
  47. weemadarthur

    weemadarthur Mad as in angry, or mad as in crazy?

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    But your description is just a literal deus ex machina. What fun is that? It still works out to the narrator - tha Plague Doctor - lying about everything, so the reader cannot know what is true.
     
  48. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    That is an answer that works for Gold. Aiden kills the footman and is no longer traumatised. But I never got the sense that Dance or Rashton was as much of challenge to Aiden as Derby.

    There are some words at the start of each day that Aiden is becoming less distinguished from his host but the chapters don't really play out like that in any significant way. The motivation to solve Evelyn's murder doesn't get less with each host. The loss of personality is happening over multiple loops, whether it happens progressively in each loop is debatable imo. Aiden remembers more about himself as Rashton than he does as Bell.

    If Aiden getting less over the days is supposed to be a motif it gets muddled for me.
     
  49. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    What? It's not, it's more realistic than your idea of a simulation where programmers had to literally code personality attributes and drives into AI agents, at least :P
     
  50. rac

    rac whatever

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    i thought of it as it was a sort of redemption for aiden as well

    for me the murder mystery was a good backdrop for all the personality switching, which i found really interesting
    the thing that stuck in my mind throughout was the talk between evelyn (con artist) and bell but thats probably just because of where my headspace is at
     
  51. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    What was everyone’s favorite host?

    Ravencourt was a clear standout for me. Everything from Aiden beginning to adapt to the rules of Blackheath to his relationship developing with Cunningham, his arc was interesting throughout. Also, even the first impression of him from Bell’s perspective was hilariously depicted. Once Aiden wakes up as him, you know exactly who it is lol

    I think Donald Davies was a second for me because being described by everyone as dressed like a rainbow is great
     
  52. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    what's weird about this is that they would actually allow Aiden in. That's the part that most reminds me of the Black Mirror episode, in that the captors have allowed people outside of the justice system (such as it is) to revel at the punishment on the spot. There's something really flawed about that from the inception of the thing.

    And from there, my question is : Did Aiden really deserve all the help he got? What if we look at the whole thing not as a prison for Anna but a therapy for Aiden?
     
  53. Zippedpinhead

    Zippedpinhead I'm a wee bit mad at Weemad

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    I don’t think it’s a created scenario. I think it’s nice poetic irony for convicted criminals to be sentenced to solve seemingly impossible crimes. It could be created, as how else would they be able to develop realistic interactions from diary pages/historical documentation/calendar entries, but the surprise of the original plague doctor at the revealed murderers seems genuine.

    Especially with the surprise of the thomas’s murderer reveal followed immediately by Madeline’s early morning encounter with the final character aiden is. Really helped make the connection on the missing maid and the real Evelyn. I honestly didn’t even pick up on the “Thomas was the only attractive hardcastle” and Evelyn being pretty during the early encounters.

    I wish the plague doctor would have revealed what the original order of characters was. Is it supposed to be in waking order?

    Does Anna deserve to leave? I think based on what aiden sees during the final two days she may be rehabilitated.

    I guess it goes back to are prisons supposed to punish or rehabilitate? Silver tear definitely falls under punishment over all costs while the original plague doctor felt that aiden didn’t belong and that rehabilitation was possible.


    Aiden rehabilitated himself. His perception and character arc is drastically different than the presented hate/ vengeance -filled person who entered. Being able to even feel compassion for Anna is truly a life changing core belief from who entered.
     
  54. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    Overall I really liked the book. It’s not a perfect execution of the concept, but I thought it was still done fairly well and in an entertaining manner. It’s the finer details that do t hold up as well to scrutiny, but the journey was still wholly enjoyable.

    Yeah, the interference by the Plague Doctors was something that to me really skews the idea of this being a valid system of rehabilitation. I think the one thing that saves it though is we know Aiden was not put here for said rehabilitation. Many of the things that occurred in this instance would likely never occur in a normal one that solely had prisoners in it.

    Solved and suspected are different things I suppose. I suspected Michael of being involved in his sister’s death which was sort of correct. I also suspected Evelyn of being involved in her brother’s death as a child. I don’t know that I can say I solved either of those points though because I wouldn’t have been able to lay out a strong case or anything due to the nature of how the book reveals the specifics of these events. I did solve that Daniel was not who he said he was both due to math and due to his seeming lack of knowledge of events that were happening in that moment despite him being with a previous version of his supposed self.

    Didn’t Rashton file it down? Maybe I’m misremembering. I will agree on the “all of them” bit being a clear obfuscation by the author.

    Yes, I loved that moment though I understand why it couldn’t have been done too much. Was hoping to see it pop back up in another critical moment to no avail.

    My question is this - the Plague Doctor seems unconvinced that Anna has been rehabilitated, ultimately accepting it due to Aiden’s insistence. Is it really valid though to take the word of someone with a much more limited scope of the crime’s committed though? Is it more trustworthy due to Aiden having less bias or less trustworthy due to him acting with a limited set of information about prior crimes?

    It still played out with them though such as Dance’s various aversions and less sympathetic views or Rashton’s bravery (or in some cases recklessness).

    Mine personally was Rashton. I enjoyed that host as it felt like the point at which everything really escalated due to the competence of Aiden with that skill set to start finishing connecting all the dots.
     
  55. Faddy

    Faddy of, having, or involving transitory whims

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    I liked Rashton... however going back to the point about Aiden being less present in each host. Did Aiden really solve the crime or did Rashton solve the crime and Aiden just happened to be along for the ride. Rashton took all the info and put things together with ease.

    For example Lucy being Stanwin's daughter.. did I miss this or was it really just the look. I didn't get how calling him Ted gave it away either, wouldn't she called him dad/father when they weren't in the company of others. Rashton was a super cop.
     
  56. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    No, what gave it away was the picture of Lucy in the locket found on Stanwin’s dead body lol
     
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  57. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    Funnily enough, that was the only thing I saw coming in the book, when Ravencourt met Lucy at the hallway and saw how she was more sad than angry that he treated her like that. As for your question, Aiden learned their relationship when he found the locket on Ted's body containing a picture of her.
     
  58. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    See, I find it the opposite. He did degrade over time and in a linear fashion as he jumped from host to host. Early on he was able to notice what was him and what was his host but this slowly evaporates as the Hosts go on. Derby did seem to be the most overpowering personality and got through more often than not but the other hosts had more subtle ways of coming through.

    Rashton for example. I think most of that connecting the dots and bravery was the host and not Aiden. It's also referenced that Ravencourt is a very underhanded man and would use blackmail on people, something that is pointed out to Aiden and it's something he didn't even realize he was doing at the time. There's even Edward Dance and his internal desire not to accept his age or show weakness. Aiden fights against that in many cases but accepts it in others.

    Aiden seems to accept his Hosts' feelings/drives when it helps him out or when they are too strong (Derby). He fights them otherwise.

    Oooh. I definitely have to read that interview. Get some great actors in this and it'll be gold.

    I don't know. I think it's almost too much to be a created scenario without some sort of 'real life' example being taken. That just leaves the question of if this is time travel or a VR created experience.

    I do think the Plague Doctor didn't know all the answers. It's possible that whoever his Superiors were did know but kept them in the dark so they would be more 'neutral' on events.
    Ravencourt, Dance, and Rashton were all standouts to me. In a way I also liked Derby but it's more that he threw a wrench into things and changed up how Aiden had to handle/think of his Hosts. Everyone in that house is a real piece of work but Derby is just a flatout asshole.

    Plague Doctor mentions this once but it was waking order, yes. Would've loved to have known how that order went when Aiden started to try and solve the murder.
     
  59. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    I had the most difficulty keeping track of how many damn guns were being stolen/hidden in this book.

    Soooo michael stole two guns. Gave a gun to felicity. Rashton got the silver gun. Gave that gun to felicity. Felicity shot off the gun, dropped it in the water. Dropped the silver gun outside of the water. Rashton picks up the silver gun, gives it to Michael.
    I totally forgot where the other gun that Michael took on the hunt went. Can someone remind me?
     
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  60. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    Did anyone expect the other player in this story to be Daniel? I was honestly surprised to find that the Footman was not it and was simply working on Daniel's orders.
     
  61. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    I think the scene when Dance decides to stay back and confront Hardcastle is one of the most powerful in the book. You can picture Peter standing in front of that window so vividly and how he reacts to every question. It’s a very edge of your seat moment. And then you find out later that they are very close friends during the hunt and it explains Peter’s willingness to be open about everything

    I would say I liked the Derby chapters too because of the reasons you gave above too. Definitely throws a wrench in his ability to control his hosts. Coping with Derby’s disgusting reputation, anger, and yet also being a mommas boy at the same time lol what a character

    I suspected it during Dance. It stood out wayyy too much for Daniel to tell Aiden he was his LAST host. And after the shit he was doing, like killing stanwin, something didn’t seem right to me at that point.
     
    #62 TearablePuns, Jul 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
  62. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    The interview @Fireblend shared is pretty good, I'd recommend it. Gonna share this snippet from it since I was wondering throughout my reading just how the author kept everything straight and together.

     
  63. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    So, even presuming that the rehabilitation system is legit, would it hold up with this in mind?
     
  64. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    Yeah, cause this only happened because Aiden chose to be there and was not a criminal himself. Actual criminals would need to solve the crime using their own brain and personality, so at least they would get out on their own merit.

    I got really close to drawing a map of people's movements myself, lol. If I had read this at the beginning of the month, I'd use the remaining weeks until this discussion to do it.
     
  65. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Technically Aiden was supposed to follow the same rules, wasn't he? I know adjusting the order of waking up was against the rules, but I thought having more hosts was also against the rules?
     
  66. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    Yeah, but Faddy's point specifically, that Aiden may not have solved the crime himself because he was too lost in Rashton's mind, wouldn't have happened with normal criminals as they only live the simulation for one day and get resetted, before they can get lost in their hosts' personalities.
     
  67. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    About the spreadsheet and map, during day one I was keeping a list of plot points to keep in mind, I stopped at like 10 when it was evident the complexity of the web of events would be exponential
     
  68. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    I really liked Dance and Peter's conversation too, another character moment I liked was Aiden's identity crisis when he found out Bell was a dealer, nice subversion of expectations there with the 'doctor'
     
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  69. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    Oh yeah that was the first big reveal moment that i can remember. Especially since at that point I don’t think we know about Aiden yet and we believe Sebastian to be his true identity right?
     
  70. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    That’s a really interesting read. Some real dedication to the concept that I can appreciate.

    I did really enjoy the bait and switch with the Footman as well. One of the moments I enjoyed most was the back to back “deaths” (even if one was kind of a fake-out). The author did a good job building him up to be a big menace just to pull the rug out and reveal that he was simply a pawn of Daniel’s.
     
  71. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    What was the choice the Plague Doctor gave to Felicity in order to get her to come to the gatehouse and kill Evelyn?
    Was this clarified?

    I can only imagine that the man outright told her that Evelyn would be poisoning her drink, right?
     
  72. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    Yeah the body swapping wasn't established yet
    This is another part I don't understand or doesn't make sense.

    Annabell and whoeverer inhabits Daniel are awful criminals, yet 'Daniel' gets handed a body with dozens of goons while Annabelle only gets a powerless maid, why the difference on goodies? Was it explained?
     
  73. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I think at that’s point the poisoning had already occurred (and the subsequent curing). The Plague Doctor informed her of the betrayal and the location to go to. It was her choice if she acted on it.

    Yeah, I will agree that it’s odd Anna is given control of a virtual nobody vs. one of the more prominent characters that whoever is inside Daniel gets.

    One thing I’m confused on is Silver Tear. Was she always present in these simulations or did she only interject herself due to the interfering of the Plague Doctor? Why is she so intent on helping Daniel if we know that he is of a similar level of evil as the original Anna?
     
  74. Pedro

    Pedro The Last Airbender is actually a great movie
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    Because Anna was (Danganronpa 1 spoilers)
    Junko Enoshima
    , and they couldn't let her out again.
     
  75. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    The footman seemed like a happy (for Daniel) accident for me. He really only has one the one homicidal underling despite Daniel being a bit of a POS already. The whole situation seems hard to read though as, again, it shouldn't have been an accident but we don't know what the masks actually know. But sure enough they learned he had a homicidal minion and left him with it.

    But we know Aiden was given hosts with the best chances of figuring out the answer (despite mask apparently not knowing it). Can we presume the others were given similar hosts? Daniel seems for sure in the position. If Anna was meant to just stay trapped it makes sense she has nothing except what Aiden eventually starts to give her.

    It's also a bit strange how her memory is apparently Gold killing her which means Aiden was already given that host while he was still perpetuating his revenge. We really don't even know when he gave that up.
     
  76. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    I want to pose this question : Did Aiden deserve to be released?
     
  77. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    It seems like she's intruding iirc. Seemed to me she wasn't reported because the other mod was also breaking rules with aiden. To the latter, guess we would have to presume he's not quite as bad as her. But still, can't imagine how getting him released by means of murder and manipulation is better than letting out a possibly rehabilitated anna.

    Seems like the reveals were pretty disappointing for everyone. In that respect, i could relate the book to danganronpa or more related gone girl for me on that it was an intriguing read in the moment which ended pretty flat. Partially why I didn't end up rereading it.

    So would really like to hear more from those who were satisfied with the ending. Not in response to anything in particular but just what was satisfying to you
     
  78. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    I'd say yes, particularly under the system's rules. He didn't do anything to get in, did he? He kind of forced himself in. If anything the system had a really weird way of dealing with him instead of kicking him out. Kind of speaks to the lack of control the plague doctors and whatever the rest of the system's hierarchy looks like have over the system :P

    And for him the whole thing was a way to deal with the grief over his sister's death that went from an urge to exact revenge to realizing the person he wanted dead didn't exist anymore and the one in their place deserved freedom.
     
  79. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    This reminds me of Umberto Eco's work when writing The Name of the Rose, he pretty much designed the novel's abbey's floorplans and would calculate how much time people had to talk together while walking before turning a corner and stumbling upon someone else who interrupted their conversation and crazy things like that.
     
  80. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Rashton was fun because it moved the story forward, but I'll agree that Ravencourt was great because of his interactions with Cunningham, probably because the author could have them talk at length without necessarily going into the core plot details or revealing more about how the body swap thing worked unlike Anna who I also enjoyed but had way shorter and cryptic conversations.
     
  81. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I would say so. He didn't deserve to be there in the first place. If a civilian was allowed/snuck into a maximum security prison out of some desire for revenge, while there would certainly be fallout from this the punishment wouldn't be to remain in such a high level punishment facility. To me there's no question he should be allowed to go free, I'm more curious as to what kind of society/system would allow him to enter in the first place.

    See that's what I thought - that she was intruding. I find it very strange that she was able to ascertain from the outside that the Plague Doctor was messing around with the balance of things to the point that she felt the need to interject herself. It doesn't feel like that jives with the idea that they have supervisors that are unaware of the tinkering currently.

    As for the end, I actually really enjoyed the book and the end of the mysteries within the simulation, the Evelyn reveal, the way it was setup and built to, and even the final interference by the Plague Doctor. I'm happy with the conclusion of Aiden finally keeping true to his word and getting them both out. My main complaints are more just questions about the portions that are unexplained or not explained well - but all of those questions are not particularly pertinent enough to have needed to be explained to the reader.
     
  82. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Yeah I really liked the ending and actually didn't feel that disappointed. I cared way more about the murder mystery which was entertaining throughout and had a very satisfying conclusion. How an author should handle the "techno/paranormal" setup is a catch-22 IMO, either you don't introduce any explanation for the novel's setup, which would disappoint people since it was a core component of the plot, or you do introduce some lore to justify it. If going with the second, you either start introducing that stuff early on so it doesn't feel tacked on at the end but then risk diluting the reader's interest in the murder mystery with weird techno/psycho babble that doesn't really matter, or leave it to the very end in which case it will inevitably feel like an afterthought, but at least it keeps the rest of the novel focused on what matters.

    And even then I liked it, keeping the "experimental setup" as a secondary mystery in the background worked for me, and ultimately it posed a decent enough thought experiment that asked the same questions the novel had been asking throughout: how much of who we are is determined by our bodies/background, can people change over time and effectively become entirely different persons, can people change in a way that allows them to break the harmful cycles they're trapped in, etc. I also much prefer the superficial explanation we got rather than an exposition dump explaining everything in detail which I'm sure would have withstood even less scrutiny. I think how easy it is to exchange the explanation for a number of others (Aiden was dreaming/actually in a coma, alien experiment, computer simulation, magic, etc) should make it obvious how much we should be focusing on the "experimental conditions" vs. the thought experiment and the questions it presents.
     
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  83. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    For me, that's what separates the VNs I love from the ones that are whatever. Hung up on the VN thing, but solid applies to other media as well. When there's this crazy premise, I kind of expect some total mindfuck that includes most of the plot elements. So then I'm wondering why not write a normal mystery? The multiple perspectives was intriguing for sure but the narrative justification was lacking for me. And that's like the lowest acceptable level. It's there a thematic reason? Or just a neat idea without justification?
     
  84. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I think a big theme in the book is the idea of what makes a person, and a lot of that is seen via Aiden struggling to understand who he is vs. what elements are from his hosts. I don't think a traditional mystery could accomplish that same thing. I don't fault the story for being more interested in exploring that vs. having a huge deep dive on the specifics of how it's all possible. I can understand why people might be disappointed for the lack of that though.
     
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  85. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    I really appreciated that the lore dump chapter (Day 8) didn't just finish the entire book for me. Even after such a revelation Aiden is still not making sense of things yet to be solved, so there's a reason to keep reading. Especially when the "all-knowing" figure of the book (the Plague Doctor) is even baffled by the possibility of another murderer in the simulation. Usually a chapter like that would be the second to the last in a book, but then you have 7 more chapters to go haha.

    Also, Helena Hardcastle. Much of the book i was hoping to get some dialogue from her but at one point you're just like "she's either the murderer or dead." And then a few chapters later you're like "okay, she has to be dead somewhere."
     
  86. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    What do you think it had to say about that? Especially with aiden being an anomoly?
     
  87. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I feel like the book really wants you to buy into the idea that removed from their crimes, a person can change and evolve over time. With Aiden specifically, it's interesting to hear that he entered with vastly different goals than by the time he exited. The book basically lays out that Anna was a monster, that Aiden entered to then get revenge via monstrous acts, but that both have now left all notion of those previous lives behind by the time the book picks up. To me it also seems like it is implying that a lot of atrocity is about circumstances. Aiden has lost his lust for revenge, but when he's in Derby he experiences the urges that Derby would in those circumstances. If Derby were thrown into a rehabilitation simulation like Aiden would he too have changed? Based on the way the book lays things out it seems that he likely would.

    To me though, I still think there's an argument to be made that the author's viewpoint is flawed. He seems to argue that Aiden and Anna are rehabilitated and deserve to be absolved of their past crimes/intentions, but is that viewpoint valid when even the Plague Doctor (someone with full knowledge of their past selves) is skeptical and the only wholly convinced person is Aiden, someone who at the time is frequently referencing his inability to keep his 'self' clear and distinct from his hosts? The same Aiden that has very limited memory and knowledge of these past atrocities?
     
  88. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    I 100% disagree that the multiple perspectives thing or the repeating day are just "intriguing" or "gimmicks" in the story, they absolutely reinforce the themes and questions I mentioned above that the author was evidently interested in exploring, and they are also pretty central to the book's premise; remove those elements and you're reading Agatha Christie and I probably wouldn't have suggested it for book club in the first place :P Stories with repeating cycles (Russian Doll, 999, Groundhog Day, Steins;Gate, etc) often deal with and evoke specific themes that this novel more than hints at throughout: the frustration of not being able to break free of harmful cycles, the lack of control we often feel we have about our environment, our capacity to change regardless of that environment and the realization that people ultimately have more control over said cycles than they think; and these stories usually involve the main character going through an arc of redemption/self-forgiveness to break free of the literal cycle they're in, all of which is very much present in Seven Deaths.

    The themes about identity are a little less easy to justify, but I still think they have some merit, carried by Aiden's literal loss of (both physical and psychological) identity. I thought his internal monologue every time he found himself in a new body or with a new set of urges/impulses and wondered how much of them were his or what age he actually was or how his body looked like was interesting, and the question about how to build a self beyond your body that transcends temporary impulses is an interesting one too.
     
  89. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    The struggle of Aiden to find his identity identity is a good theme of the book, it was what motivated me the most to read during the SB chapters

    After some consideration I believe my favourite host is Dance, the moment when talking to Peter where Aiden's "protect Evelyn" motif subdues to his host's personality is the host<->Aiden interaction I like the most, in part because Aiden's principles were a hindrance to him for some days by then and that was a cool way of advancing the resolution of the mystery while not renouncing them.
     
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  90. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    I don’t think that’s the author’s viewpoint at all because there were so many things that went into triggering their conclusion. It’s not a matter of them being absolved of their crimes, but of the bigger picture.

    This form of rehabilitation isn’t exactly ideal as we’ve already discussed. There was no “winning” to this game before Aiden got involved in the whole thing. He only got involved because the higher ups tampered with the system and found it suitable that Anna suffer even more by getting killed over and over for god knows how long. And at the end of each of her loops she loses apart of herself just like Aiden but not at the same rate as him because of his host swapping mechanic.
    But meanwhile Anna is dying over and over and over again from the time Aiden is first introduced into the system and some of that trauma has to have carried over for her.
    At one point she decides to try and solve the crime and teams up with Aiden and actually finds a sort of companionship with him.

    This shit is crazy to think about lol

    Then you have the plague doctor that’s just some old, tired man that has seen all of this going on for years and years. And finally, while helping Aiden, he notices Aiden “aiding” Anna (lmao, at the alliteration) and that transformation is also astonishing. On top of that, Aiden has become this selfless figure now (maybe falling back into the type of person he was before his sisters murder) and puts Anna’s life above his. His original urge of vengeance turns into a story of redemption for Anna.
    They are no longer the people they were before they entered Blackheath because all they really know is each other. Aiden’s only memory is “Anna” and Anna’s only memory is of him killing her lol.

    She has died so many times. And that brings me to my final point and one I haven’t seen discussed here yet: the pain of death.
    The description of the footman’s knife slicing up Aiden in each of his hosts... it’s very real to him. Pain actually hurts in this simulation and it’s very vividly depicted. And those feelings carried over from each host, too. Every time he woke up as Collins, that shit was a terrible experience to endure. Anna experienced such suffering over and over again too.

    So it’s not a matter of being absolved, but a matter of is this right? Do people truly deserve this for the rest of their lives?

    Will Anna elect to keep her memories? That’s an Inception, top-spinning ending for you
     
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  91. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    Given the rules of the system I'd say yes. He was not even supposed to be in this prison in the first place and had to accept the rules of getting out (i.e. find the murderer) in order to leave. Even though the Plague Doctor did break the rules by helping him and giving him a larger upper hand in the overall task I think that's mitigated by Aiden's willingness to enter in the first place. It wasn't like he was placed there by whatever legal system existed to place Anna there.

    Febe and Nat covered a lot of it and I mentioned some of it earlier but one of the biggest aspects I loved about this story is that it does not explain everything to you. Instead of breaking down how Blackheath works, how the timeloops work, how the body swapping works, the story just goes on what information you need to know in order to keep up with the murder mystery and the decisions Aiden has to make. Even when the Plague Doctor removes his mask and has a good heart-to-heart with Aiden we still don't learn everything. In fact I'd argue we walk away from that with more questions than answers once we learn that this mystical being is just human and this is his job. It grounds the story in a way I think a full blown explanation of the inner workings of this prison would have erased or even ruined.

    Sometimes the answers we have in our mind are better than what an author can provide. Reading Lovecraft has kinda helped put that in my head in that having no answer is an answer in itself. Just look at the diverse amount of guesses we have in this thread already: time travel, VR, AI. Would it have been better or worse if the author just came out and said it was all robots?

    Seriously, if you have not watched Black Mirror you really should. There's an episode that asks this same question and it's been referenced in this thread already. It just all ties into what you believe makes a person who they are and, by that extension, what punishment is appropriate.

    To answer your question I don't think it is appropriate or right to put people through this hell for the rest of their lives. Technically we don't even know if they have an 'end' to their life at this point, maybe they are stuck in this hell forever. But if the intent was to punish someone for their crimes I do not think it is right to continue to punish them if they have no recollection of themselves when they committed the crime. It would be no different than picking a random person off the street and punishing them for the same crime.
     
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  92. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    Some of these questions I would guess may only apply to these extreme cases (Anna and ??? in Daniel). I can't imagine a typical person subjected to this form of punishment/rehabilitation would lose all sense of self as seen with Anna. Primarily because what is done to Anna I don't think can even count as rehabilitation. It's more like sterilization. She has not learned from her mistakes and improved as a person, instead she has been made anew - completely forgetting what brought her there in the first place.
     
  93. weemadarthur

    weemadarthur Mad as in angry, or mad as in crazy?

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    It’s an idiotic system of criminal justice for sure.

    Through the beginning/middle of the novel I was pretty sure the murder meant to be solved was in fact Evelyn’s brother’s murder from 20 years back. That would up....sort of true.

    The one thing I think was done terribly was Madeline/Evelyn. Madeline was attacked by Derby, and later we learn that Madeline is really Evelyn, a sociopath. But she behaves like an average sexual assault victim and never shows any interest in killing Derby. It’s used as a plot device to hide Evelyn but imo doesn’t work because of ludonarrative dissonance.

    The hint that Evelyn shouldn’t be an attractive person, I caught, but attributed to Bell’s view of her.
     
  94. TearablePuns

    TearablePuns Active Member

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    I don't understand. She was trying to remain undercover and on top of that, the real Evelyn was only able to intimidate anyone is if she hand a weapon in hand or had an upper hand in the situation (i.e. when the stable boy fell in the hole, she knew she was in control of that scenario).
     
  95. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    My issue here is that we as readers aren't really subject to the cycle. And really, none of them are. They know it's happening but the plague doctor is really the only one who really remembers. So we miss the frustration of not being able to break out because all we see is the final cycle and we miss all the redemption as well. Aiden and Anna are essentially as redeemed in the beginning of the book as at the end. They don't have their memories and it's not like we know Aiden was still vengeful in the previous cycle even.
     
  96. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    That’s fair, though I think they do take some moments to subject you to the pains of what the cycle has wrought such as Anna being afraid when meeting Gold. I’m glad though that this book didn’t go the route of having loops happen in the narrative. I feel like that’s the expectation as a reader upon learning of loops.
     
  97. RetroMG

    RetroMG Bergentrukung
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    I'm late to the thread, but I read a reddit AMA with the author and wanted to pass on some interesting information

    This is correct per the author.

    Dammit, I had a quote about why Coleridge was in Blackheath, but it's gone - Coleridge was one of Anna's accomplices

    More actual thoughts tomorrow, time permitting
     
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  98. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    Oh really? So are we to believe then that Coleridge has been in there for a similar amount of time to Anna?
     
  99. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    oooh ok cool