Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Hello, everyone!

Need a quick palate cleanser between Abigail Taft: Zombie Suffragette and the latest installment of The Velvet Vampire? I may have just the thing.

Today I'm reviewing Gregg Rosenblum's sci-fi dystopian Revolution 19.
Yup, it's confirmed. You have pinkeye.
From Amazon:
Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us. 
Headstrong seventeen-year-old Nick has spent his whole life in a community in the wilderness, hiding out from the robots that have enslaved mankind. But when the bots discover the community's location, he, his tech-geek younger brother, Kevin, and adopted sister, Cass, barely make it out alive—only to discover that their home has been destroyed and everyone they love is missing.
All survivors were captured and taken to one of the robots' Cities. The siblings have been hearing tales about the Cities all their lives—humans are treated like animals, living in outdoor pens and forced to build new bots until they drop dead from exhaustion. Determined to find out if their parents are among the survivors, Nick, Kevin, and Cass venture into the heart of the City, but it is nothing like they've been told. 
As they live among the bots for the first time, they realize they're fighting for more than just their family. The robots have ruled for too long, and now it's time for a revolution.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. But not everyone does, including Nick, his brother Kevin and his sister Cass who have to fend for themselves when their parents disappear. So basically it's The Boxcar Children with robots. Unlike The Boxcar Children, though, there's very little butter and milk and plenty of chasing, running, blasting and screaming.

Revolution 19 begins in a relatively quiet forest where humans who survived the Roomba betrayal of long ago have taken refuge. But things escalate quickly when robot scouts locate the human settlement and go Terminator on them. Our main character, Nick, and his siblings are separated from their parents who, they discover, have been taken by the robots to a city in the north. Little is known about the city except dark rumors about horrible conditions and unspeakable tortures.

So it's kind of a surprise when the kids go looking for their parents and find a clean, organized city with restaurants and homes for its freshly scrubbed citizens. It's basically a huge Ikea, which is to say well-appointed and scary as hell.

Why scary? Because under the shiny surface lie the re-education camps where "freemen" like Nick and his siblings are taken to discover the joys of simplicity and subservience and get their complimentary issue of Better Homes and Cyborgs.

Realizing their parents are likely at one of these camps, Nick, Kevin and Cass go looking for them along with some new friends who have just as much impulse control as Nick does.

Everything turns out fine and everyone lives happily ever after. Bwahahahahahahahahahaha, j/k. It all goes to crap in 2.4 seconds. Nick must now figure out how to save his parents, keep his brother and sister safe and close down Robot Ikea once and for all.

Revolution 19 is a quick, breezy read with some fun moments and plenty of robot-y action. I recommend it primarily for:
  • Apple Genius Bar employees who want to know what Steve Jobs' vision of the future looks like
  • Completeists who read anything with Asimov DNA
  • Robot Defense League members: To humans, their rights and nothing more. To robots their rights and nothing less
I enjoyed Revolution 19 but then I'm probably the key demo: man-child with a Robocop fetish. Reluctant readers with a taste for Transformers or any movie where Will Smith punches an alien might find this a fun read.

That's it for today's episode of Fun with Artificial Intelligence. Join us next week when we'll open Al Gore's back panel and take a peek at his motherboard! Not a euphemism.

Copil's only robot was a rotating kitty litter machine that looked like the Death Star, flung poo like a stub-tailed macaque and scared Commandante Boodles into an early grave. You can learn more on Twitter (@Copil).


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