Ann Aguirre’s Strange Love was one of my favorite reads last year. Zylar of Kith Balek looked like the Predator from Alien vs Predator, but really he was a cinnamon roll of sweetness. He accidentally kidnapped the human, Beryl Bowman and her dog, Snaps, after being misled by his ship’s AI, Helix. Love Code is Helix’s story.
Helix was kind of an ass in Strange Love, but I was interested to see how an AI was going to become a romantic main character. When Love Code opens, Helix is waking up in a corporeal body with no memory. How does an AI lose their memory and gain a meat suit?
Once we get through Helix’s disorienting reawakening, we find out that his ship crashed neat Qalu’s home and lab, and she just happens to be a scientist who had perfected a biosynthetic form awaiting an artificial intelligence to house. As Helix struggles with being in a physical body, Qalu struggles with guilt that she put him in the body without his permission, though if she hadn’t, Helix would have ceased to exist.
Though this was a more sprawling story than Strange Love, Aguirre take Qalu and Helix on a lovely journey. They work their way through Helix’s altered circumstances, his amnesia, his dependence on Qalu, the threats to his safety, fake dating, power dynamics, boundaries, social norms and so much more before arriving at a happily ever after. Watching a character learn how to human, or in this case, tiralen, is one of may favorite tropes. I really prefer it when the character learning to human starts off as not human. It’s less charming when an adult human has to learn how to human from their love interest. But that’s a rant for another time.
As with Snaps in Strange Love, there is a small talking pet creature who cuts through humanoid manners in fulfillment of her id. Aevi has been described by the author as a small cat dragon. Yes, I do want one.
I received this as an advance reader copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.