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The cake is no lie, but it's got some big bites of eggshell
on August 24, 2012
But really, all pop culture references aside (and there are numerous), the book was middle of the road for me. For all the potential this story had, I found myself really struggling with the pacing, lack of exposition, and the ending. I hate to give the book two stars because there were some great ideas presented, and I certainly think Amy is an endearing protagonist who is worthy of reader affection, but after about halfway through the novel I found myself skimming pages in an almost desperate attempt to finish the book without spending any more time on it than I had to (which I did). The events that transpire around the book's middle and thereafter really fumbled me up, and the only reason I opted to finish the book was because of the time I'd already invested in the first half. I'll do my best to avoid spoilers
We are introduced to Amy (a synthetic humanoid android) in the prologue through the viewpoint of her human father. The time we spend here is actually quite precious and does its job of bringing the reader into a world that certainly has an authentic feel. Chaos ensues during Amy's kindergarten grad ceremony when her glitched-out grandmother shows up and demonstrates a failsafe malfunction that allows her to kill a human child, one of Amy's classmates. Amy flies into action an eats her grandmother, somehow absorbing her software.
We then switch to Amy for most of the remainder of the book. Amy comes under arrest after the events of her grad ceremony cause something of a mass-market recall for her model. On her way to "prison" she is boosted by another vN, Javair, and begins living as a fugitive with the primary goal of reuniting with her parents, while the whole time learning about her mother and grandmother's past. Things proceed interestingly up until about halfway through the book.
At this point, the famous "show don't tell" adage sent me to my knees.
Particularly, I had trouble with the "Amy-clone zombie robot hoard". Anyone who's read to page 180 or so knows what major plot point I'm talking about. I'm tempted to blame modern editorial preferences for this, but the lack of exposition and (in my opinion) motivation/development transparency here fumbled the whole rest of the book for me. This scene was all I could think about until the ending. The only thing I managed to piece together by the books conclusion was that hundreds, or perhaps thousands, or Amy's shared "Portia" model, had somehow all become broken and desperately wanted to consume/cannibalize Amy, Charlotte, and Portia (specifically), to gain the ability to hurt humans...this did not work for me AT ALL. While the book makes the shortcomings of humanity clear and makes a strong case that they deserve to be rebelled against, the way the zombie hoard is so incredibly convenient that I couldn't buy it. It seems as though every single "Portia" was a daughter of Amy's Grandmother, or something to that effect, and were abused and-
-let me stop-
As you can tell by my rant here, I had major issues with the clarity here.
Additionally, the humans involved in the zombie robot scene seemed very contrived, in fact, most humans did. I was extremely disappointed that we never got to see any of the humans like Amy's dad, and the affect they were having politically, or socially, on robot rights, and things of that nature. I felt like the really relevant story contained within this story went untold because either the author or the editors were too busy keeping up the break-neck pacing to create proper atmosphere and world. I tried to allow a willing suspension of disbelief, and it worked until that zombie hoard scene. Then, I just couldn't.
Not only did the second half of the book keep my eyes somewhat glossed over (since I felt so incredibly jipped with the zombie hoard scene in the middle of the book), the ending perpetrated Deus Ex Machina in such a literal sense that I almost gave myself a concussion slamming the book against my head. That being said, it was cool, and it was done in an interesting way that was consistent with the character, but I feel like it was the ending to a completely different story/quest arc, one in which this ending is her goal, and it is worked for. Yes, I understand it puts Amy on a brink of war but...eh...The Mechanical God...it really, REEALLY happens.
Concerning the writing itself, the author does a fine job in the prologue and while she uses Amy as her POV. Shifts throughout the book seemed pointless, and the information given to the reader during those shifts could've been delivered in much cooler, more creative ways (IMO). Particularly, this is a very strange shift during the climax that almost had me tearing out pages to finish. The little information I gleaned from these passages was jumbled, confusing, verging on annoying even. After only a few sentences I couldn't stop bringing my attention back to the "book" and COMPLETELY out of the story.
Sadly, I do not think any addition books in this series will make it onto my reading list. Like I said, there were some great great ideas here, but in my opinion they couldn't salvage the story-telling once I hit the middle of the book.