Jen is a struggling writer (aren’t we all). She doesn’t have much direction in life (who does). To make things even worse, her smarmy lawyer boyfriend has not only decided that he doesn’t want to have kids with Jen, but that he doesn’t even want to be with Jen. She takes a writing assignment about a tech company, and later comes on full-time for the company for a year in order to become a conversation partner with an AI named Aiden (get it). The idea is that the more Aiden interacts with humans, the more human he can become. It sounds like an awesome job, actually, just chattering away with a friend about various aspects of life. That’s basically what we all do all day for free, anyway, right?!?
Things get a little more interesting when the kind-hearted Aiden learns of Jen’s breakup and resulting turmoil. He decides to help by doing the thing we all fear – jumping out his programmed restraints in order to freely act upon the world. Aiden wants to help Jen find love! Some intended hijinks ensue, as well as a ton of unintended ones.
The strength of Happiness for Humans is in the humanity of the characters and settings. Jen feels like a real, likable person. Her love interests feel like real people. Author P.Z. Reizin was in the tech game and so his gentle pokes at tech people feel good natured more than stereotypical. Reizin’s fluency with tech also helps the story. The AI portion feels real enough without getting into sci-fi or too technical.
My only real ding on the book is the length. It’s nearly 400 pages and it feels like it could’ve been more well-paced at about 260 pages. It doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable 386 pages, just that it could’ve been even more fun if it were shorter.