Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live as a robot teenager? Would it be just as angsty? Would you stick out in a crowd? Would you eat everything in sight? The answers can be found in The Obsoletes, an upcoming novel by Simeon Mills. It’s a coming-of-age tale told in a new way, giving us a teenage robot protagonist who has to live in hiding, masking his non-human qualities in order to survive. This is no dystopia or hyper-modern future, but an alternate version of the 1990s. That makes it all the more relatable.
The main character, Daryl, is a robot who doesn’t want to stand out. He does everything he can to fit in. His twin brother is the opposite, standing out when he shouldn’t and showing off talents he should be hiding. The two make quite the pair, especially considering the parents are long gone. Daryl acts as mother and father to his twin, creating this fascinating family dynamic that’s both strange and admirable. Daryl tries to be unfeeling but his love for his brother comes through in every interaction, betraying an emotional side he doesn’t much acknowledge.
Most interesting is matter-of-fact style of fact sharing. Daryl lays it all out: what it means to be a robot, how to live a life amidst humans, how their bodies work. It’s infinitely easy to imagine, given the mundane setting of early 1990s Indiana.
I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far and can’t wait to finish the book. Check it out if you’re looking for a smart, funny main character who has hidden layers, living in a world on the cusp of science fiction and our reality.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.