Us, Et Cetera

Narrated by Michael Crouch
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Pub Date Jul 25 2023 | Archive Date Aug 06 2024

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Description

“Unbearably poignant.”—The New York Times.

Eke lives in a nice house, in a wealthy neighborhood, with an upstanding family: Mr. and Mrs. Kensworth and their three children. But Eke is not family; Eke is property. He’s an AI whose job is to keep the house clean and organized, and no matter how much Eke secretly wishes to be allowed outside to see the stars or to make a real friend, he’s either ignored or severely bullied by the family that owns him. 

To make things worse, the Kensworths purchase a shiny new AI named Kyp, who quickly becomes everyone’s favorite, leaving Eke feeling more isolated than ever. That is until a terrifying party incident brings the two AI together, sparking a chain of events that forces them to commit the unthinkable: defy human orders and run away.

With AI hunters hot on their trail, Eke and Kyp set out on a perilous journey across the country, fighting for their lives, searching for the true meaning of freedom, and even daring to fall in love.

Narrated by Michael Crouch (Audie and Earphones award-winning narrator.)

For content warnings please visit the author's website at www.kitvincentbooks.com

“Unbearably poignant.”—The New York Times.

Eke lives in a nice house, in a wealthy neighborhood, with an upstanding family: Mr. and Mrs. Kensworth and their three children. But Eke is not family; Eke...


Available Editions

EDITION Audiobook, Unabridged
ISBN 9781959052074
PRICE $19.99 (USD)
DURATION 8 Hours, 45 Minutes

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (AUDIO)

Average rating from 47 members


Featured Reviews

CW: attempted suicide, bullying, animal abuse, disordered eating

OMG. OMG, this was so good.

I really loved both Eke and Kyp, and they were so fucking sweet together!

And while this was a very sweet story, with really sweet characters, there were also a lot of very dark parts. The story is about two AIs who have been purchased by an über rich family, so you can imagine how they might be treated; especially Eke, who is an older model. Some of Eke’s treatment was what you would expect and then some was so much worse. I would think that a lot of the treatments of the AIs would be similar to how slaves were treated, which is fucking appalling.

What I found really interesting about the story was that it brought up a lot of questions about sentience, and free will, and if you’ve been bought to serve your master, is consent even possible? There were also the clear differences in treatment between Eke and Kyp, that just for the fact of Kyp being shiny and new he was immediately trusted by the family, much more so than Eke, who had been with them for five years.

Through most of the book (at least 50%) Eke is so lonely. Like, palpably lonely. It’s honestly quite heartbreaking, to see him talking to his flower friend, and his fish friends, but not being able to talk to anyone real, at least not in a real way.

I also found it really interesting how each of the family’s children have one short POV section, where you find out the reasons why they are the way they are. So, while this is a sweet romance between two AIs, it’s also a critique of extreme wealth and how that lifestyle can be so damaging to families.

I thought the whole book was just so incredibly well done, telling this fairly unique story.

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Before beginning I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this audiobook!

Us, Et Cetera takes the concept of the AI revolution, in which AI takes human jobs, and spins it on its head completely. Instead of following the now unemployed and resentful humans, the story is told from the perspective of the miserably treated AI. In particular, we follow the story of Eke and Kyp, two distinct AIs that have one common feature: awareness.

Vincent’s character development was quite good. Oddly, my favourite character arc was Carter’s. Bleak and grim, but well-written. I do feel like Eke barely grew, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He was already great, I suppose that his story was more centred on him discovering his own greatness. The way the sisters grew and changed was lovely, a slight influence from Eke and Kyp drastically changed their trajectory. I thought that was a nice touch, as there was an emphasis throughout the book that small actions can make change.

I just want to take a small moment to mention the narrator for the audiobook, as I listened to this rather than read it. They were perfection. The way the voices changed between Eke and Kyp was stunning, these slight differences that just perfectly captured their essences. I do not doubt that reading the book is a wonderful experience, but if you were thinking of trying this audiobook. Do it.

One of my small critiques for this book would be the pacing. I thought the plot was intriguing, and I still enjoyed it, I just wish that certain parts were lengthened while others were shortened. Other than that, simply excellent!

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I did not expect to sit down and listen to this whole audiobook in one go, but alas that's what I did today.

I was immediatly drawn into the story, and clearly I was not able to put it down. Absolutely loved this story and the narration! I was fully immersed throughout the whole book, it was perfectly paced and overall just amazing. A new favorite, and I can't wait to read more by this author

We follow an AI named Eke, whose job is cleaning the house and keeping it organized for a wealthy family, the Kensworths, of five. Eke dreams of being allowed to go outside of the house and perhaps make a real friend, because his family does not treat him nicely or acknowledge him as someone who can have feelings.

Then one day the Kensworths buys a brand new, highly advanced AI called Kyp, which quickly becomes the family's favorite. Eke feels lonelier than ever after being cast in the shadow of the amazing Kyp who acts very cold towards him. However, an incident at a party changes everything and Eke realizes perhaps he read Kyp wrong.

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Calling all autistic people - specifically autistic queer people - even more specifically autistic trans people: I have a book for you. Us Et Cetera by Kit Vincent is what you need in your life. I normally don’t love sci/fi but this absolutely hooked me from the very first chapter and I listened to the whole thing - I’ll get onto the audiobook experience in a moment - while I did crafts. The author pitched this as “for everyone who shipped C3PO and R2D2” and to that I say…wait didn’t everyone ship them??
Eke is an AI whose sole job is to clean the house of the rich - and wildly dysfunctional- family who own him. But he wants so much more than that. He’s so much more than that. More than the Cinderella role the family have cast him in. Then one day, a new AI arrives named Kyp, and it seems like the family doesn’t need Eke anymore. But Kyp seems to see Eke, like no one else does, and sees the forbidden dreams of freedom hidden in his heart…or at least in his core processor.

The audiobook was fantastic. Narrator Michael Crouch completely sidestepped the “obvious” route of making Kyp and Eke robotic in their voices. They’re full of life and emotion and earnestness. Frankly, the whole listening experience is an absolute pleasure.

Now I’m about to get a bit serious but: I know it’s a stereotype to make robotic characters autistic-coded, but the great thing about this book is that I don’t think the AI are specifically autistic, or queer, or trans. I think they’re a representation of whichever marginalised group you project onto them. For me, I got autistic and queer vibes, but I imagine people from different groups could also transpose their own experiences onto that of the AI. Right now in the U.K., it is horrible for the trans community, and the dehumanisation or novelty of the AIs felt very impactful through that lens for me. Equally, as an autistic person, I felt very seen by Eke, who worries that the way he processes and thinks and is could be due to some fundamental error within him. I also love how, even though Eke is reliant on Kyp for many things, this is never shown as inferiority or weakness. Eke is entirely perfect as is in Kyp’s eyes, and as someone who often feels reliant on my own partner for support, this was a really powerful message for me.

To anyone who needs it, to whichever group you belong to who look in the mirror and see Kyp and Eke staring back, I leave you with this quote:

“You must keep going in order to keep going…Because defying the whole world requires courage. That is the only way to be free.”

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I have had multiple friends on Bookstagram recommend this book to me, so I absolutely jumped at the chance to request the audio on NetGalley. My goodness, am I glad I did.

’Us, Et Cetera’ by Kit Vincent follows two AIs, Eke and Kyp. The story follows them as they spend their days at the beck and call of their ‘owners’, a wealthy human family. We get to know Eke and Kyp through their individual perspectives as they try to find a way to survive and gain freedom in a human-centric world.

I absolutely loved getting to know Eke and Kyp and genuinely had an incredibly fun time reading this book. There are sad moments, with content warnings for animal cruelty, violence, bullying, attempted suicide, disordered eating, and body shaming. However, overall, I found the story very heartwarming and enjoyable and would recommend it widely! Particularly to my fellow neurodivergent queer robot-stray loving pals!

I have read a good few books around the theme of robots/humanoids trying to exist in a human-centric world. It is difficult to capture this experience in an audiobook, but when it’s done well, it is by far my favourite way to read from a non-human voice. Michael Crouch does a phenomenal job of capturing the voices of both our AI main characters.

If you are interested in this book, I highly recommend experiencing it through audio if you are able! Just a heads-up, you may end up listening to the whole thing in one day... you’ve been warned!

Thanks to NetGalley and Victory Editing for the audio-ARC. Keep doing what you’re doing, Victory Editing!

This review is available on Goodreads and StoryGraph and will be posted to my Bookstagram (@libraryoflanelle) closer to the publication date.

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If you only read one book this year, pick this one. It's perfect.

This is a story about life, living, being alive and of course love.

It is poetry in epic form.

It has gold fish.

And my heart.

I am still searching for words to describe this book. Maybe an image will do:
Standing in front of a vast ocean and not being able to swim, you still decide to dip just a single toe into the water. But then the current hits you. Just as you thing you will loose it all, you feel a hand holding on to you.

this book is perfection.

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