It is an unfortunate fact of human history that the word ‘different’ has long been synonymous with the word ‘inferior’, and it is this far too familiar theme of prejudice that is at the forefront of Suzanne van Rooyen’s Young Adult novel I Heart Robot.
Set in a dystopian Scandinavia, I Heart Robot follows the story of two young musicians – Tyri, the daughter of one of the country’s best robotics engineers, and Quinn, a rogue android living on the outskirts of society after escaping his abusive human masters.
The pair meets after being selected for the city’s junior philharmonic orchestra, and despite being pitted against each other for a solo opportunity, become fast friends when they discover in each other an appreciation of music that no one has ever shared.
The story takes place against a backdrop of political upheaval, with androids petitioning for autonomy and basic rights, and most humans perceiving them as nothing more than tin cans without emotions or intelligent thought. As tensions boil over Tyri’s once-sympathetic views towards androids become hostile, and Quinn’s protests that not all humans are evil fall on deaf ears.
The tension between the groups, the obvious attraction between the main characters, the ticking time bomb of Quinn’s real identity and the secrets surrounding Tyri’s birth makes for compelling reading. The world building was exceptional and the characters well developed.
I would have liked to see the layers of Quinn’s character pulled back a bit further – he was incredibly complex, and I feel as though we only brushed the surface. I hope this means there may be a sequel in the works; while the novel ended relatively firmly, there is still plenty of room for the story to continue, plenty of world left to explore and plenty of space for character growth.
I feel as though this novel will hold up solidly as a series opener, it introduces us to wonderful characters, an intriguing world and a battle we can get ourselves invested in. As a standalone, though, it falls short, with the conclusion far too simple for the complexity of the story. I guess we will have to wait and see, and for the moment I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Thanks to Month9Books for providing me with an ARC of this book.
By Ash Bye