REVIEW: Artificial

cover-1000-1.jpgBOOK: Artificial
AUTHOR: Jadah McCoy
PAGES: 226
PUBLISHER: Curiosity Quills
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★  (3/5)

She struggles to feel human.

In 2256, the only remnants of civilization on Earth’s first colonized planet, Kepler, are the plant-covered buildings and the nocturnal, genetically spliced bug-people nesting within them: the Cull. During the day, Syl leaves her home in the sewers beneath Elite City to scavenge for food, but at night the Cull come looking for a meal of their own. Syl thought gene splicing died with the Android War a century ago. She thought the bugs could be exterminated, Elite city rebuilt, and the population replenished. She’s wrong.

Whoever engineered the Cull isn’t done playing God. Syl is abducted and tortured in horrific experiments which result in her own DNA being spliced, slowly turning her into one of the bugs. Now she must find a cure and stop the person responsible before every remaining man, woman, and child on Kepler is transformed into the abomination they fear.

He struggles not to.

For Bastion, being an android in the sex industry isn’t so bad. Clubbing beneath the streets of New Elite by day and seducing the rich by night isn’t an altogether undesirable occupation. But every day a new android cadaver appears in the slum gutters, and each caved in metal skull and heap of mangled wires whittles away at him.

Glitches—androids with empathy—are being murdered, their models discontinued and strung up as a warning. Show emotion, you die. Good thing Bastion can keep a secret, or he would be the next body lining the street.

He can almost live with hiding his emotions. That is, until a girl shows up in the slums—a human girl, who claims she was an experiment. And in New Elite, being a human is even worse than being a Glitch. Now Bastion must help the girl escape before he becomes victim to his too-human emotions, one way or another.

MY REVIEW:
I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have to admit that this book surprised me a little bit. When I was looking over the spring release titles, this cover caught my eye. As I read the book description I found myself intrigued, although not entirely sure if this book was up my alley. I scrolled past it, but my curiosity got the better of me, and that’s the story of how I ended up with an ARC of this book.

Jadah McCoy’s writing is good, there is no doubting that. The story is interesting and had me more invested than I expected to be but there just wasn’t really much of a wow factor for me here. The story held my attention throughout (for the most part, anyways), but there wasn’t anything that made me feel like this book deserved any sort of overwhelming praise.

The story revolves around Sylvia, one of the few remaining humans left on Earth after androids took over and manipulated human beings into what are now called the Cull. The Cull are bug-like creatures that hunt humans. Sylvia lives with a group of people who take sanctuary in a sewer, and scour the Earth by day in search of food and supplies. One night, as Sylvia flees from a heated exchange with her group, she finds herself in danger when she crosses paths with one of The Cull. She wakes up in a very clean laboratory and realizes she’s been experimented on. The fear that she may eventually turn into one of the Cull dawns on her, and she makes a stealthy escape from the lab, straight into a city she never knew existed. A city of androids. Here she meets an android sympathetic to her plight, and this is where our story gets good.

As far as characters go, Syl is likable enough. I like strong female leads as much as the next girl, but sometimes her need for independence annoyed me. It lead her to make some silly decisions that ultimately had me wishing she’d thought things through a bit more. I suppose ultimately it helped to make her character more realistic, she’s certainly not perfect, but I did start growing frustrated with her at times. Bastion is a pretty good character as well. It seems he was built as a “pleasure android” to sexually satisfy others, which is really kind of weird to me since all these androids are made without emotions. Though there are a few who develop them, and they’re called glitches. Bastion’s thoughts and feelings toward Syl soon force him to realize that he is also a glitch, and he needs to be careful in hiding that fact.

“I play a soft chord, then another until the sounds blend together and rise towards the vaulted ceiling in a beautiful harmony. The soft song crescendos as I press harder on the keys, burying all those wretched feelings I’m not supposed to have, the thoughts I’m not supposed to think, into the notes echoing in the dark room.”

McCoy does a really good job at creating a dynamic between Syl and Bastion. They both have smart mouths, and it results in some pretty entertaining dialogue between the two. Part of me almost wishes that there wasn’t a romance developed between the two, though. It just feels odd to me. It’s probably supposed to feel odd. I don’t know. Sci-Fi is a little new to me if I’m being completely honest.

“I chuckle under my breath. ‘You’re really bad at this whole ‘impersonating a bad guy’ thing.’
‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’”

I’m kind of interested in seeing how this plays out as a series. I honestly didn’t realize it was meant to be a trilogy until I read over some of the other reviews. I’m not entirely invested in this world or with these characters, and the book itself doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger so I could probably walk away without another thought. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the teeniest bit interested in what goes on from here. The ending felt a bit abrupt, and the deeper conflicts were not resolved in any way. McCoy writes well enough, I think I could stomach a second novel.

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