This was one of the most anticipated books of the new year, and I was among those who couldn't wait to read it. Then I started to see the reviews come rolling in, and I started to actually dread starting this one. But, to my surprise, I enjoyed it in ways that others didn't seem to. What's a little bit scary is that I thought by the end of the book - that maybe what we really *do* need is a robot apocalypse. Ahem.
I thought that it was a very entertaining read. I didn't feel a really strong connection with the characters, but I had enough of one to care what happened to them. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put the book down, I wanted to know what would happen next and how they'd get out of whatever the next situation was. However, I like to feel like I'm in the book along with the characters, and I didn't have that sort of connection. It was a half-hearted connection, if you will.
Admittedly, I did find a few things that I didn't enjoy about the book, the same as most other reviewers did. The robots weren't very imaginative and were only very basically described, and sometimes the descriptions didn't make sense. A robot that had human-ish features but was bigger than a human, rolled instead of walked (but you can't see the wheels), and later lifted it's leg. Why did it have a leg if it rolled? I didn't get it. BUT. I did like that there were different types of robots and that they all had different roles to play in the society.
I also didn't understand Lexie's motivation for helping Cass and her brothers. She says it was because she was bored, then it's explained that her parents believe in needing to rebel against the robots, but they don't seem that eager to help. Again, it didn't really add up. BUT. Lexie seemed to know some pretty interesting people who *were* willing to help, and she kept putting herself at risk to get them out of sticky situations, so I liked her.
One part that I really did enjoy was the re-education system. It's mentioned early in the book and then later is described more fully, and the idea really intrigued me. It was almost like mind control, but a little bit different. People could still make their own decisions, but there were major consequences for rebelling. I also liked the thought of the technology used to heal people. It was never fully described or explained, but mentioned a couple of times. They throw people in a tank and they come out healed. Broken arm? Fixed. Burns? No problem. It's a very interesting idea, but I would have liked more detail.
I was more intrigued by the ideas presented in the book than it's execution, which was only average. If things had been fleshed out a little bit better I think I would have enjoyed it more. Thinking about it makes me believe that my kids would probably really like it, as middle-grade or juvenile fiction, rather than young-adult. I might test that theory.
My overall thought is that if you're looking for an entertaining read and are semi-interested in a robot world, then pick it up. If you're looking for something that will blow you away with realistic imagery and real character connection, as the last paragraph in the blurb promises, you will be disappointed. It wasn't without faults, but I enjoyed it, it kept me engaged and it was a quick read - only taking me a few hours to get through.