DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
PUBLICATION: SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, May 1st, 2016
Ben is a the husband to Amy but just can't seem to get things together. One morning when they discover an old, broken robot in their garden, Amy wants to trade it in for an newer, more sophisticated android, but something about this robot strikes Ben's heart and he decides to keep it. Focused on fixing and upgrading it, he finds a hard time convincing Amy ultimately leading to their separation. Tang, the robot, appears to be largely unknown - made by an unknown company, owned by an unknown owner, and pieced together in a very unconventional way. But Ben is determined to find out why this robot was in his garden and if there's any chance of fixing him before its too late. Together, Ben and Tang set off an a trip around the world meeting with roboticists, robot historians, and robot enthusiasts and somewhere on this journey they realize how much they really do need each other.
This is a wonderful story of friendship, parenthood, and being there for someone when no else is. Ben is at a rocky point in his life and he desperately needs someone to fill that hole. Tang is that someone. During their journey, Ben learns all of the adorable and slightly annoying idiosyncrasies that Tang brings to the relationship. As a father to an 18 month old, many of their interactions seemed very realistic and memorable. Tang wants to do things his way and Ben doesn't. Obviously the two have to compromise exactly like a father and son would. While reading this story, it was neat to see Ben take on the role of father to this old, beaten down robot that no one wants and everyone wants to upgrade.
Written in a beautifully paced narrative, this book was a fun, innovative, adventurous trek to all parts of the globe in the name of friendship. Install does a fantastic job at making the reader fall in love with Tang and really pulls on the emotional heartstrings quite a few times. She also shows her talent in bringing Ben's painful break-up to life on the pages. I found myself cheering for him and urging them to get back together throughout the whole novel (I won't spoil it for you).
But the whole time I was reading this book, I thought to myself, "I've never read a book like this before" and that's quite a statement seeing as I read a ton of books in pretty much any genre given to me. This books was ingenious and masterfully orchestrated. Install is clearly in the driver's seat on this one and it was a privilege to hear her tell this story, this very original story.
Even though the title has the word "robot" in it, it's not overly sci-fi. As a huge sci-fi fan, I actually liked the fact that Install didn't go overboard. In this futuristic society, everyone has androids that do most of the house work. But rather go deep into unnecessary detail about the robotization of our culture, she writes as though its just commonplace and something that happened at some point in our history. I feel that had she gone into detail about this, it would've watered down the story and made it unnecessarily long. The length she gave is perfect.
If you're looking for a book like you've never read before, don't wait - pick this one up. It is such a heartwarming and wonderful story that I know you won't regret it. Install barges her way into modern fiction and cements herself as an author to look out for. I would love to see more of her work.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.