Tell the Machine Goodnight

Tell the Machine Goodnight

A Novel

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Pearl's job is to make people happy. Every day, she provides customers with personalized recommendations for greater contentment. She's good at her job, her office manager tells her, successful. But how does one measure an emotion? Meanwhile, there's Pearl's teenage son, Rhett. A sensitive kid who has forged an unconventional path through adolescence, Rhett seems to find greater satisfaction in being unhappy. The very rejection of joy is his own kind of "pursuit of happiness". As his mother, Pearl wants nothing more than to help Rhett--but is it for his sake or for hers? Certainly it would make Pearl happier. Regardless, her son is one person whose emotional life does not fall under the parameters of her job--not as happiness technician, and not as mother, either.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, [2018]
Branch Call Number: FICTION WIL
Characteristics: 287 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 23, 2019

I thought there was lots to like about this book, which is kind of a blend of science fiction and family drama. The science ficiton part is very light - just enough to galvanize the action which centres around a woman, her teenaged son and her ex-husband and father of the son. Quite a few other characters drive the plot of the book and each is given his/her spotlight in chapters which alternate perspectives. In some ways, a bit like linked short stories, but we ultimately always return to the main characters, Pearl and her son, Rhett. The author has some interesting things to say about what makes people happy (or not), the perils of technology and the things that truly bind us together or drive us apart.

Feb 16, 2019

This book is reminiscent of unusually optimistic episodes of Black Mirror.

Once opened, this book did not leave my hands until I had reached the end, and then I re-read the beginning again to pretend it wasn't finished. I connected with many of the flawed and lovely characters and recognized a number of the less lovely ones from my own past and current affairs. Although this book was important for me as a young female growing up in the age of social media, I think it is equally important for men and older readers to experience as well.

I think everyone will find some of the most wonderful and also least appealing parts of themself represented in this book.

OPL_EllyR Dec 02, 2018

Williams' debut is a endearing, near-future take on technology and contentedness. Her readers' struggles are refreshingly quotidien; divorced parents supporting a son recovering from an eating disorder, a young woman finding her way to health and healing after a childhood spent isolated from the world, an artist working to stay relevant in their field. Though the technology is exciting, it remains not only believable, but a seemingly logical extension of our current resources. There's something delightful about storylines centered around quiet, inner peace and stability rather than emotional extremes, and Williams excels when focused on providing that for her readers. The interpersonal conflicts distract from that goal only briefly. This read is like a breath of fresh air.

Jul 30, 2018

I thought this was a VERY STRONG first novel. It is imaginative, thoughtful, and engaging. I would give it to a mature teen to read (there is some explicit sex in it, so careful if you care). If you like dystopia novels and are looking for something pretty light, this is a great summer read.

Jul 26, 2018

Any book that gets our AI on can be interesting and engaging. Williams gets imaginative with Pearl in 2026, who works at Apricity as a contentment technician and where a device provides metrics that give individuals a recommendation of tasks that produce happiness. Seems creative enough. She has a son....clients..... ex-husband....What starts as a futuristic family with projected tech home and tech devices turns muddled in the story of changing emotions and events. If only there was less character babble and more story development. Sometimes less is more.

Jul 09, 2018

This book reminded me of the stories of Kelly Link or Karen Russell, or the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. The situations and characters are a little strange and unusual, but the author's exploration of human emotion and psychology are carefully considered and very real. Thought-provoking, entertaining, and a lot of fun to read!

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at HPL

To Top