Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Six

Author: Mark Alpert
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: SourceBooks Fire
First Published: July 7, 2015
First Line: "My name is Sigma."

Book Description from GoodReadsTo save humanity, they must give up their own.

Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam's only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero.

Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam's game. Created by Adam's computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam's life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam's dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat...before Sigma destroys humanity.

My Review:  This book had a great, original premise about a group of critically ill teens being given a second chance at 'life' as well as the opportunity to save mankind from an evil Artificial Intelligence being who is out to destroy mankind.  Cool idea, am I right?

I have to admit that I'm not in the target audience for this book.  First, I'm not a teen or a regular reader of Sci-Fi, nor am I very learned about computers in general (that said, I'm also not a computer novice - I get by).  So it should come as no surprise that I found, at times, that the story got too bogged down in the techie jargon.  There was a lot of describing the thousands of a second downloads and transferring their consciousness to this machine or that which seemed to happen a lot. But for teens who love technology I think that this would be right up their alley.  

The characters themselves were strong and fairly well developed with the main character, Adam, being believable and easy to get behind.  You really feel for him (and the other five) who have suffered so much physically from their illnesses that have ravaged their human bodies for so long.  

What I had a hard time getting behind is the fact that these teens had such an easy time getting used to their new robot 'bodies'.  Sure, Adam had a lot of background in coding and virtual reality but the others just seemed to intrinsically understand how to read hundreds of files in milliseconds, manipulate their new bodies, download their consciousness to various machines right from the get go.  Personally, I wanted to learn more about how these teens felt becoming robots and losing their human bodies.  It's touched on but I thought that we'd see more struggle.

Sigma was the character that stood out for me the most.  It was an amazing foe for The Six.  It is evil, focused on its goals and utterly ruthless and heartless.  There were a couple of scenes that upped the creepy factor and made Sigma stand out for me as a truly great villain.

This book isn't all about techie speak and evil machines.  It also puts the ethical dilemma of killing these teens in order to place their consciousness into robots on the table.  We see Adam's mom continually struggle with coming to terms with his new 'life' and how this affects her relationship with her son.  Adam and his dad's relationship was touching and the most believable connection in the book but even his father, who engineered the programme, struggled with his ultimate decision to enable his son to 'live' on and I found that to be very authentic.

Readers will be happy to know that The Six is also filled with action scenes and a healthy dose of suspense. There was even a 'romance' scene thrown in but I felt like it wasn't needed and personally I didn't think it added much to the story line. 

In the end, this was a good read.  While AI isn't something that I usually read about I think that many teens would love this book.  It had some heart, action and a very original plot that will make it stand out for teen readers. 

Look for this book in bookstores and online July 7, 2015.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to SourceBooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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