Friday, November 8, 2013

Expiration Day

An introspective, unusual entry into an overcrowded field.

Tania Deeley is a robot.  Called a “Teknoid”, she and her fellow robots were created to appease the desire for offspring in the wake of global infertility.  For reasons unknown, people suddenly became unable to bear children, and Oxted corporation stepped in with robot replacement children to prevent the collapse of society.  The Teknoids are near perfect human copies, and are leased to parents until the age of eighteen, when they are taken by Oxted and never seen again.  Tania had been told by her parents that she was human, until an unfortunate accident involving a boat exposes her true identity.  Despite the realization that she isn’t human, Tania continues to mature and grow like any normal child, exploring her Teknoid status and trying to figure out if she’s really a person or just a possession, incapable of creativity and emotion.  But her time is running out.

Written in Tania’s diary entries, Expiration Day breaks the standard YA mold.  There is no star-crossed romance here, no struggle against a totalitarian government.  Tania is a normal girl struggling to figure out who (or what) she is.  This lends her character a reassuring stability, and makes her relatable to the vast majority of the target audience.  However, the worldbuilding is seriously lacking, without any grounding to make the setting plausible.  The ending is also far too neat, wrapping up Tania’s story without resolving anything else.  (Spoilers:  it involves aliens in the far, far future.)  Breaking the book into sections are commentary by the aforementioned alien(s) who find Tania’s diary.  These “intervals” add absolutely nothing, except implausibility.  Despite this, the plot leaps and soars high above the standard tropes.

A breath of fresh air in a crowded genre.  3.75/5 stars.

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