Thursday 16 August 2012

Book Review- vN by Madeline Ashby

 Title: vN
 Author: Madeline Ashby
Series:  The Machine Dynasty #1
Published:  2 Aug 2012
Length:488 pages
Source: Publishers
Other info: Madeline has been published and writes for various magazines. This is her debut novel.
Summary : Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine- a self-replicating humanoid robot. For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of  mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her family history-like the fact that he failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed. Which means everyone wants a piece of her-some to use her as a weapon, some to destroy her.

Review: In this futuristic world, robots are a fast-growing demographic in the population, mainly due to vonNeumann machines, aka vNs. They’re robots that look human and do many things the same way- eat, grow, and self-reproduce. Amy is one such robot. After being brought up by an android mother and a human father, she’s been fed specially to keep her aging as per human speed. Therefore Amy spends the first twenty-something pages as a five year old. All this changes when Portia, her grandmother, shows up and attacks her daughter (Amy’s mother). Amy then eats her grandmother. Due to this sudden influx of food, Amy gets a growthspurt and becomes physically about twenty (I think). Having broken the failsafe that keeps robots from harming humans, or anyone,  With Portia’s voice  constantly nagging her, and with the help of fellow vN Javier, Amy is now on the run from lots and lots of people.
A robot eating her grandmother. Sign me up. Proper sci-fi doesn’t make up a huge bulk of my reading, but I love it when I get it. from the start, we get a really good world built up. I love the idea of major food companies making things to cater for vNs, and the way that these robots are becoming integrated properly into society. I love the smaller scale world that’s built up too- the close knit family that isn’t quite conventional but still tight and happy and loving and generally great.
I found the plot chopping and changing really quickly, which was nice because lots of things happened. However, they it all kind of chopped and changed a bit too fast, and there were some things I got confused about at various points in the novel. There’s a bit about Rory that I didn’t really get and I feel that may have been a bit significant. There were other really random things that while good on their own, were just a bit too crazy and  a  bit incoherent.
I loved Amy and Javier. Both are strong personalities that are easily likable and Amy develops a lot throughout. I suppose you have to when going through all that stuff.
A lot happens. Within the first few chapters, Amy has eaten her gran, broken out of jail and watched Javier give birth to a baby version of himself.  We then get to some other sci-fi conventions, such as robots not being meant to be able to harm others, and intelligent robots and debates around that.
The writing’s good. It effectively conveys the idea of Amy learning things from start to finish, and each character has their own  quirks and speech and such. vN has a really nice ending that round the story off well. The thing that made me just think “win” most of all was the fact that Ashby put the chapter numbers in binary. I’m easily pleased.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a fun sci-fi adventure with a lot of family and friendship and a little bit of love thrown in.

Links: Goodreads

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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