We Hear Voices by Evie Green

In an author’s note, Evie Green (she/her) points out that We Hear Voices was complete just before COVID-19 hit. So, though she wrote a “horror” novel about a respiratory pandemic, it was not informed by what actually happened. Good to know. The novel opens with a six-year-old boy about to do his death rattle. Millions of people across the globe, including children, have died. His family (father, step-father, sister, mother, baby sister) all come to say goodbye to him, gathering in the kitchen and then taking turns using a hazmat suit to hug him and tell him he’s loved. When it’s his mother’s turn, she refuses the suit and simply heads upstairs to hug her son while he dies. But moments after it seems like he’s died, he comes back. And then he quickly regains his strength. And then he starts talking about the voice in his head.

The first thing the voice wants is access to the internet. It has lots of questions, all of them inappropriate for a boy; “What is an orgasm?” is on the list. I feel like it’s not a spoiler to say, “Oh, this voice is information gathering, so clearly this is a science fiction novel with invading aliens.” I mean, the book club I read this with had one person who had no clue, but he claimed to be a “just go with it” reader.

The voice chooses who it likes and hates, and if it hates someone enough, it makes the boy do bad things (though there are no major fires as the cover would suggest). Once he becomes too violent, he’s taken to a secret research lab with other children who hear voices, and now we’re getting Stranger Things and The Institute vibes. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother and step-father are struggling with their finances. The step-father works with the homeless (suggesting he’s an altruistic person but likely not paid well) and the mother stays home to care for the baby. She used to be a lawyer, but at some point had a breakdown.

The oldest daughter, sixteen, is enrolled in a unique space program where teens plan to get on a space ship that will arrive at a new planet in 2-3 generations where humans will prosper, instead of on junky ol’ Earth. Her interest in space reinforces the alien suspicion. The problem with We Hear Voices is that it takes on too many tropes of various science fiction stories, as if the author sat down and had a movie marathon for a weekend and then stuffed in as much as she remembered. There’s an Elon Musk type. There’s a “city” where people work for shelter and chits to exchange for food (very Octavia Butler). There’s a ragtag band of homeless people who somehow organize to save the day. There’s even a fricken’ ghost for no explainable reason other than “it helps the plot.”

Evie Green, it turns out, is the pseudonym for Emily Barr, who has written for adults and teens. I could tell she wrote YA because the novel reads fast, like it’s meant for younger readers, and you get a random YA romance thing in there, too. Overall, a confusing story that makes some odd (okay, goofy) choices that led to an unfulfilling read. And, my book club found We Hear Voices offensive: racist, man-hating, and privileged/helpless characters. I disagreed with all of these assessments using evidence from the book, and then things got real awkward, but I still don’t recommend Green’s novel.

CW: None


  1. There are too many good SF novels to bother with indifferent ones. (and whatever happened to Carmen Dog?)

    Because YA was all boys (or all girls) when I was growing up I hadn’t thought about ‘random romance’ being a thing, but of course it is. I was actually a bit surprised when the Harry Potter characters started pairing off. My naivete!


    • Biscuit and I finished Carmen Dog, but we weren’t quite sure what to make of it, so I didn’t write a review. Near the end, it seemed like Pooch was falling into one situation after the next, and we got a bit boggled by what the point of the book was. Of course, we pointed out that there was aggression toward women, sexual predators, a happily-ever-after that ended with Pooch pairing off with a man regardless, and her falling in love with anyone who showed her an ounce of kindness. I was more interested in the snake character. But in the end, I kept thinking, “I don’t know what to say about this book. I have a slight vibe about it, and a couple of themes emerge, but what do I say?”


    • Yeah. Sometimes I think white liberals, especially women, get shouty about anything that could be perceived as problematic without truly thinking it through. Like, it’s good to be an ally, but you can’t be a mindless shouty one because that doesn’t accomplish anything meaningful and can be harmful when the people they’re trying to convince just go, “See? They just want to yell at me about everything!” It’s not a great dialogue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Truth! I personally don’t think you can change someone’s mind by shaming them. They just shut down and don’t listen at that point. And why should they? You just sound like an asshole even if you’re making a valid point.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How does the voice know the internet even exists? I almost want to read this because now I have so many questions but I also don’t because this sounds kind of bad!


    • Ha! That is a great question! So, actually, it was easy to read. As I was reading, I kept thinking I was going very fast, almost as if the novel were written at a YA age/grade reading level. You’d fly through it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this does seem like a lot of things stuffed into one book. Thanks for the heads up re pen name. I’ve read one of Emily Barr’s adult novels and hated it, so I’ll definitely be avoiding this one.


    • I know authors will use a pen name especially when the cross genres or write too many books to be “comfortably” released in one year, but sometimes switching identities feels deceptive to me. Sounds like she’s biffing it in all the genres.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Doesn’t sound great! The subplot about the sister being enrolled in a space programme for teens sounds interesting – I think I would much prefer reading a story about that. There are so many ethical dilemmas involved in something like that – it sounds like a ripe topic for a SF novel. But it does sound like there was just too much involved in this story.


    • An apocalypse! Horror! Sci-fi! YA romance! It’s got it all. Oh, well. I read it with the book club, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it up. I never like books that try to make an ominous tone the selling point. In this case, the ominous line is, “An eerie horror debut about a little boy who recovers from a mysterious pandemic and inherits an imaginary friend who makes him do violent things…” The premise — an insidious imaginary friend — is not new, so the whole dun dun DUUUN! quality of the synopsis would give me little red flags were I deciding to pick this book up on my own.

      Liked by 1 person

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