Contented Reader

just point me toward the nearest library

Book review: Robopocalypse

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Daniel H Wilson


Shit, Robopocalypse is a good book.  And I mean multiple layers of good.

You could probably write the plot summary yourself, just by reading the title.  Robots try to take over the world, killing everybody in the process.  There are some nice nuances in this telling of the story: the robots themselves aren’t self-aware, but are controlled by an intelligent program.  Later on… no, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling that little surprise for you.  I’ll just say: Nine Oh Two.  The opening scenes of robotic mayhem are appropriately horrifying- I think I’ll have nightmares specificially about the nursing home stairwell, but perhaps it will be the little girl’s creepy doll that will keep you awake.  There’s a nightmare for everyone in this novel’s opening chapters.

The book’s structure reminds me of World War Z, a pseudodocumentary style that tries to add a level of realism.  But where World War Z succeeded so well that it reads more like a Studs Terkel book than a novel, Robopocalypse uses the device to support a much more straightforward narrative, with a reasonable number of consistent characters that it shifts between.  The plot is fast-paced and exciting, and once you start reading, you might find it hard to stop turning pages.

It’s well-written, much more so than I expected.  When I pick up a book about a robot apocalypse, I don’t dare to hope that it will be particularly well-written, and just pray that the plot keeps moving forward and there aren’t too many comma errors.  Wilson’s prose is tight and deft, a pleasure to read.  He’s not writing literary fiction; he’s writing for a popular audience who wants to see robots blowing shit up, yet he doesn’t let that fact compromise his style.  I read this book and I’m imagining a man who is completely in control of his words, making them do exactly what he wants them to.  Like tiny robots.  Yes, I’m saying that Daniel Wilson’s words are tiny robots that want to kill you.  Or at least to keep you up too late, reading.

Imagine that.  A literate page-turner.  Eat that, Stephenie Meyer.

If someone isn’t already working on turning this novel into a movie, then Hollywood is stupid.  Well, yes, I know, Hollywood often is stupid.  So you should probably go ahead and read Robopocalypse right now, rather than waiting for the movie.  I’m also going to put on my prophecy hat and predict that this will get nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Nobel Prize.  Or at least two of the three.


Written by Contented Reader

July 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Reviews


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