30 June 2018
This is an utterly fascinating book, and to be honest, it started off in one direction (I thought it was going to have a bit of a ‘Real Steel’ feel to it, but quickly realised it was much more in the realms of Philip K Dick territory, looking more like a cross between a ‘Blade Runner’ Replicant story, with bits of I, Robot (the book obviously), and a setting straight out of Mad Max (there are scenes that could quite easily have been taken from Mad Max, as well as the Book of Eli).
This gives you a bit of a feel for the type of world building that is going on in the back ground of this story, it is truly epic as Kristoff weaves this tale of a young girl, Eve, and her friends, Lemon Fresh, Eve’s BFF, and sidekick in all things, Cricket a mouthy little robot (but don’t ever call him little, or he will bust a circuit to break the 3 laws to end you), as well as her loyal cyborg dog Kaiser, there is also her grumpy old sick grandfather who they live with. They live in an apocalyptic world (did you get that from all the previous references??), in which bombs have been dropped and California has been separated along the San Andreas fault, making it now an island, the ‘sea’ in between, not really an ocean, but a glassed bit of sand with a radioactive bit of sludge on top that not many are willing to cross (unless desperate).
They survive by putting together bits of robots to make their own to fight in ‘The Dome’ for what passes for money. In the future, there are 3 types of robots, Machina, Logikas, and Automatas. All are supposedly controlled by Asimov’s 3 laws (and Kristoff has this beautiful addendum to the laws that really makes you think)
Before you have even reached a couple of chapters into the story, you have had an entire world thrown up around you, and you have been dropped into this futuristic robotic world with such depth, that you really wonder where the story is going, how can the Author build this wonderful place any deeper. And then we are introduced to Lifelikes, the 4th evolution of Robots, and you realise that all of the stuff we have just read is like a prologue and give it a couple of chapters, and you will forget it even happened.
When Eve and the crew come across ‘Ezekiel’ a Lifelike – which is a robot that has been created to perfectly resemble a human, but with such beauty that they would make a super-model look bad, strength to outdo most Machina, agility to put even the finest ballerinas to shame, and speed beyond the visual range, these are the perfect epitome of robotics and human hybrid. They too, must follow the 3 laws.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away from this point, but we quickly learn that Eve has a very different past than we first believe, and the man who is posing as her grumpy old grand-father is not her grand-father at all.
The story becomes very quickly involved, far deeper than you could think possible.
This is a fantastic story full of exceptional characters, incredible machines and technology, and some raw, gritty and powerful emotions. The story just keeps moving forward at a pace that you just don’t realise is happening until you are three quarters of the way through the book and going ‘WOW’ at what has happened so far, and it doesn’t slow down.
Eve’s character is incredibly powerful, as is the character of Ezekiel and the Lifelikes. The message that underlines this book, about how we treat others, even Robot AI, is a very powerful message, and whilst we haven’t reached that point quite yet in our technology, the growing gap in our economic society, between the rich and poor, makes the message just as powerful as the upper class forget the rights of those that they consider beneath them.
This book is brilliant on so many levels, that it is worth the read regardless of what you enjoy, any sub-genre of Sci-Fi, but also several other genre’s as well.
Kristoff has created a book that will be remember for a long time once word spreads, and will it will be nominated for awards throughout the year. Get in early before it does, and before the movie gets made.