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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(2 star).Show all reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
Before I begin writing this review, I feel compelled to point out that there are spoilers below. You've been warned.

The problem I have with this book is that none of the characters are in any way sympathetic or interesting. Our protagonist, Charlie Neumann, struck me as somewhat mentally ill with the mentality of a spoiled child. The supporting cast is a largely one-dimensional collection of stereotypes, from the middle manager who combines the stereotypical feminine shallow woman with the buzzword-spewing pointy-haired boss from Dilbert to the cartoonishly evil CEO giving speeches about world domination. So rather than being drawn into the story, I felt more like an apathetic observer watching a dull personal drama in which I have no real stake.

The love story suffers a lot from this. The aforementioned protagonist is depicted as a brilliant man who can construct robotic body parts that can connect to the internet but has no ability to connect with other humans or desire to learn how to. In other words, he's the humorous stereotype of an engineer as a technologically brilliant man with no idea of how personal hygiene, social interaction, or the opposite gender works - which can be funny as a supporting character or one-off gag, but isn't strong enough here to sustain a novel. His love interest is the prosthetist Lola Shanks, who is attracted to him not because of who he is or what he represents, but because of her daddy issues leading to a fetish for prosthetics. Another character even comments on the amount of men Lola has brought home due to her fetish. The end result is that the relationship feels somewhat exploitative where Charlie is seeing Lola as the only woman he can get anywhere with, ever, while Lola is only interested in him because of his artificial limbs. But I cannot bring myself to care because the characters are one-dimensional and boring. If the book had made me care about Charlie I might actually care. But I'm sitting here reading this with a sense of detachment because any character we might feel sympathetic - such as the doctor or Carl the security guard - toward are the characters we see the least and are put into antagonistic roles. I don't think this is a coincidence.

Now the blandness of the characters might be salvageable if the book had new or interesting ideas in it, or an interesting - or dare I say novel - plot. But the plot is "evil corporation exploits engineer cyborg" and "vaguely exploitative love triangle" which just isn't very new or interesting.

Lastly, I personally didn't find this book very funny, but I suspect this is a matter of personal taste. This isn't Catch-22 which is a genuinely funny book that has fleshed out characters and manages to be thought-provoking, this is the adventures of a spoiled whiny child who just wants to play with his toys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 20, 2013
I thought the beginning of the book was interesting, but the more the book went on, the less credible it became, to the point where I couldn't stand it. Out of respect for you, I don't want to get more specific than that, to avoid spoiling the story.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2014
This was my fourth Max Barry read. I was expecting the same fast paced, funny, smart and unique storyline that I liked in his other books I've read, in this order: Syrup, Jennifer Government and Company.

Alas, Machine Man is not funny, smart or unique. I have read that the author created the core of this book as part of an online page-by-page writing exercise with feedback from readers incorporated into the progressing story. Well, that experiment failed. This book is frustrating. It is definitely fast paced though.

Despite all its flaws, I finished it. I never stop reading books in the middle, just like I don't walk out of a movie theater. I gave it a good chance, all the way till the last page, yet I never got to like the protagonist. He is not at all like Barry's other leads. Unlike how in his other books the heroes get better and smarter over time, Dr. Neumann gets stupider and more selfish as the story progresses. He never redeems himself or even shows any desire to. He's also predictable to the nth degree. Yes, I get it: he wants to be a machine; he doesn't understand human emotion. And yes, there is a place for stories like this and authors who make them readable. But Max Barry is not one of those authors. Stick to writing satire, buddy.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2011
This reads like the novelization of a lazy action movie. Characters are two dimensional stereotypes that never develop and actions are motivated solely by the demands of the plot. In this world all engineers are unwashed nerds whose greatest aspiration in life is to experiment on themselves "For Science!" The number of contrivances required to make this story work are simply staggering. The female lead falls for the protagonist, not because he has any redeeming values, but because he is the protagonist and this is a love story, after all.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What I've learned from reading this book, Company and And Then We Came To the End, is that I don't care for books which take place inside corporations or the workplace in general. Probably because I work for a corporation and when I read, I want to escape that.

That being said, this book didn't work for me on any level. By page 2 I knew exactly what was going to happen and it played out as predicted. The title says it all ... Machine Man. The Six-Million-Dollar-Man on steroids.

Barry has a big fan base, and I'm guessing that they will enjoy this book and that I will be in the minority. I will admit, there were some great laugh out loud lines in this book. But overall, I found it predictable; the moral/commentary way too overt; the characters unlikable and irredeemable and too much scientific detail.

I found this book in no way enjoyable.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2014
This is the third work I have read by Max Barry. I found the story uninteresting and ultimately closed the book about 1/2 way through. This work will be donated to the library. I'm sure someone else will enjoy it.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 23, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I get it. This book is a satire, a (supposedly) witty look at what love really is. What love can induce us to do, etc, etc. But it wasn't my cup of tea.

I will say that Max Berry, our rather odd writer, certainly brought a new twist to the 'love story.' From what I read and researched the technical aspect of this book is right on the money and the characters are very well written, but I couldn't get past the whole 'fetish' that is going on here. Or rather that is my word for it.

I prefer my techno-thrillers a bit more conventional and my love stories a lot more conventional. This book simply wasn't for me and to be honest, I'm not even sure who the intended audience is for this one.
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