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A Very Personal Computer Hardcover – October 19, 1995
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7?An amazing computer program comes to the aid of 11-year-old Pollard, who has had his share of problems, including the recent deaths of his mother and his dog. In addition, he's the smallest in his class, has no friends, and is failing most of his classes. Then he encounters Conner, a "compensatory program," who knows everything about him and will do whatever he asks. This includes doing the boy's homework instantly and perfectly, teaching him how to play baseball through lifelike simulation, and giving him advice. Through a virtual date with the prettiest girl in class, Pollard learns to reconsider who he likes and why. The premise may be a bit hard for some readers to swallow; they never learn exactly how the computer program came into existence, and at times the insight and advice seem contrived. Some clever plotting holds the book together, however. The lessons Pollard learns are not always predictable, and a surprising twist toward the end, in which he reveals that his mother is not really dead, is quite powerful. Despite some uneven spots in the writing, the computer-driven plot offers an intriguing outlook on typical adolescent problems, and Pollard is a well-drawn character.?Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4^-7. Rendal has created every child's fantasy--a computer that will do your homework, teach you how to play baseball, and even, in simulation, guide you through the thorny etiquette of the first date! Yet the underlying reason for eighth-grader Pollard's computer-assisted instruction is very real indeed: his refusal to accept his life since The Accident, a personal disaster that has left him without his mother, his dog, Gonzo, and hope. The artificial-intelligence-as-guidance-counselor works surprisingly well for Pollard and reader alike. Altlhough actually even more didactic than his human counterpart would ever be, Conner the computer lacks all empathy, or feeling as he calls it. However, with Connor's help, Pollard gradually accepts his situation and becomes better adjusted in school and with friends and family. This lively first-person story is an interesting, effective mix of science fiction, humor, and reality. Frances Bradburn
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