Thursday, 7 July 2016

A ROBOT IN THE GARDEN by Deborah Install

Author: Deborah Install
Genre: Science Fiction
Publishers: SOURCEBOOKS Landmark
Publication Date: 01 May 2016
For fans of THE ROSIE PROJECT and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME, A broken man and his damaged robot build an unlikely friendship-with some assembly required.

Ben's really great at failing at things-his job, taking the garbage out, and being a husband. But when he discovers a battered robot named Tang in his garden, he decides to get out of his couch-ridden comfort zone. Without a crucial bit of machinery, Tang will stop working, and Ben can't let that happen, especially since he's already alienated everyone else he cares about. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben sets out to fix his new robot comrade and soon discovers that Tang might be just the thing to fix what's broken in Ben. Funny, touching, and charming, A Robot in the Garden explores what it is to be a man, a sentient being, and a friend.
Have you ever imagined the world, where androids and robots are treated equally to men and them nearly capable of everything we humans do? You might say, those are just machines of no feelings, but what if an extraordinary man achieves to develop a machine that can think, feel, and act like men? Delirious, right? or amazing, huh? In A ROBOT IN THE GARDEN, Deborah Install spins such a story of a unique robot, who won the heart of the protagonist as well as mine.

A robot appears in Amy and Ben's garden, out of nowhere. Ben, an unemployed man, is happy seeing the robot (who calls himself as 'ACRID TANG'), whereas Amy is irked as it's no android- machines developed to assist humans in their chores, but just a robot in a bad condition. Amused by Tang's appearance and tendered by his battered condition, Ben wants to help Tang out to fix his broken parts. Amy becomes irritated watching Ben spending hours with a useless robot, instead of finding a job and asks him to discard Tang somewhere. When Ben neglects her suggestion and continues to spend days with Tang, Amy decides to leave him. With a broken heart and the guiltiness of never able to prove himself accomplishing goals, he set out for the help to fix Tang, on a whim. The remaining story revolves around Tang and Ben's unusual friendship and how Tang brings changes to Ben and Amy's life.

Take it from a reader, who dislikes Science-fiction and hasn't watched the Star Wars Saga, A ROBOT IN THE GARDEN has changed my attitude towards science-fiction books and Tang has won a special place among my favourite book characters list.

This story is set in the future, when androids are programmed to assist humans in jobs that don't require much intelligence; such as driving, gardening, kitchen chores, receptionist, laundering, etc. There are special laws and arrangements for androids everywhere and they are even allowed as "companion", while travelling or at any function. I found myself thinking how bizarre it would be to live in such a world, but curious at the same time, to know how the author has managed to build the future robotic-era. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed reading it. The simple, easy-to-read writing sans jargons made the story sound interesting and soon the story had me hooked.

Deborah has incorporated Childish behaviour into Tang's character, which helps the readers to enjoy the story a bit more than the usual. Sometimes, I was moved by his innocence, nearly forgetting Tang is not a human cub, but a robot and at times, I was puzzled, thinking how the heck a scientist did manage to design a sentient bot. Anyhow, the story was worth reading, as it stands out for its distinct, amusing plot.

The characters are developed well throughout the story, especially Ben. His globetrotting experience along with his robot brings out the best in him and he learns to move on in life. Nevertheless, I was quite disappointed when their journey came to an end. It appeared as the author was in a rush to finish the story, for it becomes too pacy towards the end. I did kinda skimmed through the pages then, to be honest.

If you fancy reading science fiction or are bored with the cliches and looking for a unique story, then A ROBOT IN THE GARDEN is the book for you. Highly recommended!

Thanks SOURCEBOOKS for the copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.