Boy Robot - Simon Curtis

In a single night, Isaak’s life changed forever. His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin. An origin he doesn’t want to believe, but one he cannot deny.

Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination. He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future.

To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable. Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death…or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.

I love a good, solidly written action thriller that actually contains fully constructed characters and solid narration. I had no idea what to expect from this book. I met Simon Curtis at the Printz awards reception in Orlando during ALA's Annual Convention, and he asked me if I wanted to read his book. I liked the cover, so I asked him what it was about and then brought a copy home to check out. Like any book, it has its own issues, but overall, it's a mindf*ck of a novel that fans of action and adventure will love.

There is a beautiful moment between two secondary characters, in which on of two twin boys comes out as a woman:
"I'm a woman." She opened her eyes and looked at him. "I don't know how to explain it, but I've always bee this way. Inside. I've always known it." She bit her bottom lip and her eyes glistened.
He reached over and took her trembling hand in his. "I've always known."
She looked at him with terrified yes, relieve flooding into them.
"And I don't care what the rest of the world thinks, or what anyone else's dumb fucking opinion is. You are my sister, you always have been, and I will always love you."
The pronouns that the young man uses for his newly discovered sister in this situation is fantastically life affirming and just so great in terms of gender-reaffirming attitudes. Though it should be noted, this affirmation does NOT last for long and is more of a longer-term and more complex relationship. As we all know, discrimination is a force that is often difficult to be reckoned with.

This novel, though, is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Curtis pulls no punches when it comes to violent imagery, assault, difficult sexual situations, and heartbreaking deaths. But I mean, it's robots and bolts of electricity shooting from people's hands, and being chased by deadly forces for page after page. I would recommend that this book be given to older teens, definitely over the age of 14 due to some of the more mature content, but that doesn't meant I wouldn't recommend it for library collections or for purchase by young readers!

Perhaps what I found most difficult throughout was the POV switches at various points throughout each chapter and the novel overall. I found myself confused and had to go back and forth numerous times to figure out whose POV I was currently reading. But, that being said, there's a lot to like. There is solid diversity represented within the pages of Boy Robot, including LGBT content! I Recommend this book.

(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out Oct. 25, 2016)


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