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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Automaton Nation by Cynthia Kumanchik is a unique Young Adult sci-fi novel with heart-stopping suspense and a heartbreaking romance. It's the year 2045, and man and machine work together due to devastating climate change. Young Val Tate is the daughter of Dr. Rod Tate, creator of Dat, a robot with the mind of world-renowned chef Tony LaFleur. Dat saves Val's life during a drone attack launched by robotic terrorists, and the chemistry between the two is instantly there. The problem is, relationships between humans and robots are not allowed. But the attraction between the two remains and intermingles with social justice and fighting for rights.
This clever and compelling story goes beyond robot rebellion or the girl-meets-robot idea. It digs for meaning into social issues and mixed relationships, which adds a layer of sophistication and depth for a younger audience, but would appeal to older audiences as well. Kumanchik is science conscious but isn't heavy-handed with tech, and wisely focuses on the relationship story. I like so many things about the way the author crafted this novel, such as exploring the robot's feelings, the ramifications of forbidden love, and the "rights of robots". This story is entertaining, sparks the imagination, and opens a window into what life could be like in the near future between robots and humans. Overall, the story is gripping, the characters well-developed, and the conclusion will stay with you. Fans of Black Mirror, Her, 1984, and similar offerings will love this. Automaton Nation by Cynthia Kumanchik needs to be a movie. Now.