Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Me on Boy Robot

Title: Boy Robot
Author: Simon Curtis
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

In a single night, Isaak's life changed forever. His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin. An origin he doesn't want to believe, but one he cannot deny. Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination. He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future. To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable. Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death... or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.

Boy Robot is fast-paced, full of danger, discovery, and near-death encounters. It's a question between embracing humanity or embracing purpose. But to me, something was missing.

(Warning for readers that this book does contain scenes/memories of rape and child abuse.)

Issak, a kind, introspective young man. When his story begins he wonders if there's more to life, if he'll ever get to leave his small town and see the world. But then the headache comes, then his awakening comes, and he learns that he's not exactly human. He's a Robot, created by a secret government project looking to craft highly intelligent weapons. And now he's on the run. But he's not the only one. And soon enough, he's not alone.

With Issak and the others like him, their different abilities and powers, there's a big X-Men vibe. Teens with unimaginable powers being hunted down and eliminated, hoping to meet up and rise up so they can fight back on their own terms. Stripped down, this is a very familiar struggle. For survival, for humanity. For respect and acceptance.

I was intrigued by the premise, even though it sounded so familiar: teen with sudden and unexplained powers on the run towards a resistance group and from a military-type elimination team. The idea of the synthetic human, the real life person mixed with the futuristic technology, hooked me. Something that very vaguely reminded me of Margaret Stohl's Icons. But then a number of things occurred. The flashback scenes, the interludes in different points of view, were interesting, but they were all origin stories of pain, intense abuse, and death. During the race across the country, Issak is trying to figure out what he is and what his new abilities are, but no one really bothers to teach him what it is he can do. There's a lot of running and hiding. Issak's a kind, caring guy, but no one seems to want him for himself. Because of who he is as a person. It's all about what he can do, what he can be used for. How he can help other people run or hide or fight back. Yes, he's a Robot, but what was the point in giving him a personality if almost everyone was going to treat him like a tool? I wanted to like this book, but in the end it just wasn't for me.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

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