REVIEW: A Robot in the Garden

91pmvpogmlBOOK: A Robot in the Garden
AUTHOR: Deborah Install
PAGES: 288
PUBLISHER: Source Books
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★ (3.5/5)

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.

I received an electronic reading copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.

This book is super cute.

It’s what makes the book enjoyable, but it’s also what brings down my rating of the book.

Ben is, unbeknownst to himself, stuck in a rut. Living off his inheritance from his deceased parents, a tragedy he hasn’t quite come to terms with, Ben spends his days holed up in the house. One morning, Ben’s wife comes to inform him of a robot sitting in their garden, and asks Ben to get it out of there.

However, there’s something about the robot that Ben can’t quite let go. Instead of shooing him away, Ben brings the broken robot into their home. Distressed and unsatisfied with her husbands behavior, Ben’s wife says she’s leaving him.

Left alone, with the exception of Tang the robot, Ben is forced to face the facts. Not wanting to deal with the ramifications of his actions, Ben & Tang set out on a journey across the world to find someone who can fix Tang. The journey is filled with excitement, and along the way, Ben confronts his life and does some healing of his own.

I love, love, love the relationship between Ben & Tang. The book certainly brings up some interesting thoughts on the ideas of lifelike AI. There are some extraordinary hurdles in the story, but there are also tiny day to day ones that will have you rooting for Ben. Tang is the most adorable robot. Much like a child, Install shows us a bright new perspective through his eyes.

I guess what brought down my rating was really just the fact that this book was a little too cute. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly recommend this as a light read, but there wasn’t really anything to set it apart. It was good, but it wasn’t great. The writing was a little cutesy. The ending of the story kind of wrapped things up with a perfect little bow (or at least hinted at it). Although you’re rooting for a happy ending, things just fall into place so conveniently.

If you’re looking for some lighter afternoon reading this summer, the adventures of Ben & Tang will be just what you’re looking for.


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