Thursday, April 28, 2016

REVIEW: Artificial (The Kepler Chronicles, #1) by Jadah McCoy

**** (4) out of 5 stars!

This book was amazing!  A true sci-fi thriller that had enough twists and turns to really keep things interesting.  And it seemingly has everything you could ask for in such a story: human civilizations at the edge of collapse on distant planets, androids, genetic experiments and their creepy monster concoctions.  It’s like “Terminator” meets “The Hunger Games” with some “Predator” thrown in for good measure.

**WARNING: Intentionally vague but potentially major spoiler alerts!!**
At its core, the story is about what it means to be human.  We’re treated to different examples of such through the alternating outlook of Syl, a young human girl struggling to survive, and Bastion, a male android trying to do the same.  I don’t normally like books with alternating narrators and points of view, but it worked very well for this narrative.  Their attitudes and perceptions were so different that it was easy to tell them apart.  Each had their own distinct voice that rang very true to who they were and the positions in which they found themselves. 
Syl is all attitude and derring-do, very abrupt and often even rude to those around her, with very little regard for much of the danger that permeates her world.  Bastion is more controlled and reserved, but pretty much rendered as helpless in the face of his feelings for Syl as she is in many of the dangerous situations in which she finds herself.  The interaction between the two of them is so fun to watch.  The author uses great writing to weave amazing dialogue into the narrative in subtle ways, not least of which is with Syl’s sarcastic assertiveness to Bastion’s subtle but witty humor.  And the hint of obvious attraction between them that doesn’t seem likely to be realized is just gold. 
Some of the more minor characters are also quite intriguing.  I absolutely loved Michelo and kept hoping for more interaction with him.  And even though Micro is not one of my favorite personalities at first, as you discover more about how kind-hearted she is, she does tend to grow on you.

A lot is made of the fact that some of the androids are “glitches” because they have feelings.  But I thought the entire point of their uprising was that they had changed while the humans slept on their voyage across space, and that they had in the process become capable of having reactions.  Indeed, all of the androids could be considered to have feelings, just different types of them.  Certainly the main antagonist, Lexion, is full of emotions, just mean and hateful ones instead of anything the least bit pleasant.  In that way, he is little different from the humans in the cages who prey upon and abuse one another.  No matter how either of them would like to think of themselves as superior, they are very much the same. 

The very concept of Bastion’s existence, built as he was to be a pleasure android, is kind of confusing.  In a society of beings who aren’t supposed to have passions or sentiments, why do you need sex workers.  But the way in which the author describes how the androids can feel sensations akin to what humans do goes a long way toward explaining this or at least making it plausible.  This explanation and many other such things showcase just what a masterful world-builder is the author.  
There were many things that weren’t explained or just didn’t make sense to me.  For instance, who exactly was making the Cull and why?  Why hadn’t the Cull eaten all the humans yet?  And why didn’t the humans do more about trying to destroy the Cull?  Why didn’t the humans know the androids were still around?  And why hadn’t the androids bothered finishing the extermination of the humans?  I think that many of these items and potentially lots for others may be set up for reveals in future books in the series.  At least I hope they are! 
There was a fair amount of swearing in the book, and some quite graphic scenes of violence and mayhem, all of which I personally could have done without.  But none of it seemed gratuitous or out of context for what was happening in the story at the time.  And there was enough lighter fare and actual storyline to keep me intrigued and reading through those parts.     
I was happy that the book, given it is apparently the first in a trilogy, did not end on a cliff-hanger!  Thinking about having to wait a year for the next installment to find out the resolution of such scenes just makes me want to throw my book or Kindle out the window!  This ending was sufficient enough to allow you a feeling of partial resolution.  Although there are definitely a ton of loose ends to be tied up and additional potential plot lines to be explored that the author could probably write a trilogy of trilogies.  I can’t wait for the next installment, but I’m holding onto this book until then!

I received a free copy of this book from Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review.

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