Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Robopocalypse-1Our last book club selection was Robopocalypse.  If you have already read the book, definitely read the discussion between Lauren, Zach , and I.  However, I wanted to give a spoiler-free review of the book for those of you who have not yet read it and are thinking about it.

Robopocalypse is a book unlike any I have read before, which should tell you right from the get-go, that I have not read World War Z (I hear the two are very similar). The book opens with the revelation that a massive war between humans and robots has just ended, with humans finally defeating robots (for the time being, at least).  Our narrator, Cormac Wallace, finds a strange black box – a sort of recording device assembled by the robots to house the stories of wartime heroes.  The box reveals a stream of audio and visual recordings, which Cormac scrambles to write down, documenting the war to a permanent paper record.  Cormac’s  notes form the contents of the book.

I found the format to be an excellent structure to this book.  Unfortunately, it is most successfully realized at the beginning of the story, when the chapters are comprised of transcripts and descriptions of scenes written in the third person (remember, Cormac is supposed to be transcribing what he sees, and thus should not be able to know what the characters are thinking).  However, towards the middle of the book, the author lapses into writing from the first person perspective, even when Cormac is not the one speaking.  Although the switch to first person obviously provides some insight into character’s thought processes that we might not have originally been privy to, I would have preferred Wilson to be consistent throughout.  Perhaps this was Wilson’s attempt to force readers into the heart of the war instead of letting them remain a removed observer, but personally I felt more engaged in the chapters written from the third person perspective.

Other than that, the only other thing I would have changed about the book is that I wish there had been more chapters focused solely on the mastermind behind the robot uprising, Archos.  I was often confused about what Archos’s true motives were for waging this war on humanity.  Because he was so enigmatic, the chapters that offered any glimpse into the “mind” of Archos were some of the most interesting of the novel.  Even after the books end (which after all the buildup was rather anticlimactic), I was still left pondering to what end Archos hoped the war would help him achieve.

Despite these two minor grievances, Robopocalpyse had me wrapped around its cold machine finger from beginning to end.  It was a quick, entertaining, and extremely enjoyable read!  The various storylines kept it from getting stale, and the struggles each character faced was a continual reminder of what it truly means to be human.

Final Rating: 4/5 Stars

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