You can never have too many books. I was in the bookstore buying a gift for my niece. The book I chose had a “buy one get one half-price” sticker on it.
“Great,” I thought, “an excuse to indulge.”
I’d seen Adam-2 in a different bookstore a few weeks earlier but I was with the kids, and they were all clamoring for stuff. Had I broken out my wallet, a tsunami of spending would have ensued. Not that I begrudge buying books, but we were on holiday, and quite a long way, on foot, from our hotel. This time I was alone. Adam-2 was sitting there, effectively half-price, and with a “signed by the author” sticker on it.
I gave in to temptation. “I can give it to one of the boys,” I justified.
I’ve been ill for the last week or so. Not with COVID but just a standard cold. My first cold since before March 2020. I’d forgotten how much they suck. I’ve spent reasonable chunks of the nighttime unable to sleep. One night, whilst I sat up feeling sorry for myself, Adam-2 was staring up at me, with its rather lovely cover.
I began to read.
It very quickly replaced my current book (which is also excellent, but more of that in a future review). I was fascinated by the tale of Adam-2; a robot that lives trapped beneath a post-apocalyptic Edinburgh. He’s discovered by Linden and Runa and they immediately fear him. Why? Because humans are at war with the “Funks.” Robots.
Society has collapsed. The robots that humanity invited into its homes turned on them, fighting for supremacy. Adam-2’s creator, we learn, was responsible for the leaps in technology that made A.I. possible, yet he left Adam-2, alone in a basement. Why?
Runa and Linden bring Adam-2 back to the human enclave, where he is treated with mistrust. Yet Adam-2 is different from the other Funks. Perhaps he is the key to ending this terrible war?
Why Read Adam-2?
Adam-2 is excellent children’s fiction. It can be enjoyed from anywhere around age 9 upwards. It’s not a very graphic dystopia; I don’t think it needs to be classed as “Young Adult.” Yet, I would happily give Adam-2 to my 16-year old. There are some deep thought-provoking and philosophical questions here, about AI and the nature of war.
A few reasons to read Adam-2:
- Linden is gender-neutral and uses gender-neutral pronouns.
- It makes you think about our relationship with technology and the boundaries of AI.
- It asks you to question why you behave the way you do.
- It examines the futility of blind hate.
- It promotes the importance of talking to your enemies. (Not unlike the entirely different but somehow similar (Winter War by Tim Leach)
- It has an absolutely brilliant Trainspotting reference. Not something you expect in a children’s book!
Adam-2 is an excellent book. It has great characters, a fast pace, and a fabulous denouement. The build-up to the finale is relentless. As a grown-up, I could sort of see where things were going, but the journey was awesome. The novel as a whole encourages thought and examination of preconceptions and the importance of understanding what you fear.
The premise for Chisholm’s previous book Orion Lost looks amazing too, so I’ll definitely be picking that up. If you haven’t tried an Alastair Chisholm novel yet, I thoroughly recommend you do. Adult, child, with or without a cold, you won’t regret it!
If you enjoyed this review, do check out my other book reviews.