When Cora meets Adrien, at his birthday party, little does she know that her life is about to be turned upside down. Cora’s older brother Gregor works for a secretive company, the Pomegranate Institute which makes amazingly realistic holograms of their loved ones for recently bereaved people. Adrien is the son of their CEO Magnus Hawkins but is somewhat of a disappointment to his father as he has ADHD and does not conform to his father’s perception of how his son should be. Cora and Magnus strike up an unlikely but rewarding friendship as Adrien is the first person who immediately accepts Cora for who she and they soon discover they have a lot common as she is autistic.
Cora’s mother had died two years previously and Cora becomes fascinated by the Pomegranate Institute and how it can help grieving families. She jumps at the chance to find out more and meet one of the holograms. Against her father’s wishes, Cora joins the research programme lured by the charismatic Dr Gold with the promise of making her own hologram as the scientists are keen to know more about her autism. Cora and Adrien soon discover that there is a much more sinister motive behind the holograms and it is up to the children to uncover the web of deceit and lies. But disaster strikes as Adrien is in a coma after a hit and run accident leaving Cora to work out the clues for herself.
This insightful and highly-charged novel challenges many of the common preconceptions held about neurodiversity and explores pertinent issues such as AI, ethics, eugenics, grief and love in an engaging and open way. The plot gallops along and although it stretches incredulity a little in places it is more than made up for by the warmth and charm of both Adrien and Cora and their strong bond of friendship. There are some great witty one-liners too. Above all this is a story of what it means to be human and the importance of being brave enough to stand up for yourself.