Book Review – Charlie Robot

It’s not easy pretending to be a robot. Just ask Charlie. The very morning his employer was to unveil the world’s first artificial human being to a select group of investors, the android in question ran away. Now it’s up to Charlie to pose as the robot until the real machine is found. But it’s a nightmare, and as the weeks pass and there is still no sign of the run-away android, Charlie is faced with a difficult decision, continue the deception or come clean. Either way, his life will never be the same.

A nice, light, straight forward read.  The plot progresses smoothly from point “A” to point “B” without many deviations.  Though I have not followed much of the AI technologies, this one had  a strong feeling of “this is real” as in it’s actually happening.  I did figure out the big reveal about two chapters before the plot admitted what was going on, I do not fault the writing style at all.  There are plenty of clues, and Benedict did not try to head into flowery territory just to pad out the story.

The pacing is just a tad on the slow side for me.  However for more hard core science fiction readers, I’m sure there are enough details you can chase down various rabbit holes for it to feel a little more exciting.  What struck me as interesting in this work was the fact that I could hear and see what Charlie, the main character, was going through.  Despite the fact that most of the plot follows the characters through every day occurrences without too much outside the everyday off the street reader, being taken through this one showed life with an edge of newness that I have rarely seen.  Benedict did a wonderful job of rediscovering the mundane and making it glow again.

The characters had a slightly flat feel to them, however I cannot tell if this is because of the point of view, or if they lacked just a tad in their development.  They definitely fell into predictable categories:  The oily salesman, the strong silent one, the two faced cretin, the lost soul, and then there were the masses of the greedy rich play boys.  However, despite the predictability of who was going to fall into which category, the characters did not feel as if they were cookie cutter cut outs from the same dough.  Each of them did have something that made them unique.

I do remember having the feeling that the end of the book felt a tad bit rushed when the illusion that had been so carefully crafted began to unravel, which may have led to my knowing what the “big secret” was that permeated the bulk of the work.  Then again, I tend to wander around outside the box, and never have liked being led down the path to an answer.

Over all, I enjoyed the book, and feel this one deserves 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s not a steller piece of writing, but it is solid, and fun to read.  It will be interesting to see how Mr. Martin matures in his skill.  I think he’ll be one to watch out for in the near future.

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