Last year's 'Orion Lost' was a triumph; a twisty Star Trek for children (read my review here). Published this August, 'Adam-2' is yet another thrilling, intelligent, action-packed sci-fi for middle-grade, exploring the essence of what makes us human in a future world ravaged by a war with robots. It's kind of 'The Terminator' meets 'Artificial Intelligence' - a uniquely compelling premise for children. Terrific!
Adam-2 has been in his basement room for the last two hundred years, until an unexpected rumble from above disrupts his routines. Two children, a girl called Runa and a non-gendered person called Linden, find him, escaping back to a human compound in a world wrecked by continual conflict with the Funks - highly advanced artificial intelligence. Adam-2 is different, but can the humans trust him? With the robots closing in, can Adam-2 understand his true nature and become the key to ending the war once and for all?
'Adam-2' has an absolutely gripping opening and I urge anyone to read the first chapter and then not be compelled to keep reading. As a protagonist, Adam-2 is wonderfully unique: innocent, different, quirky and, as you will learn, full of heart and humanity too. He's something of the Tin Man meets The Terminator by way of Pinocchio. His narrative runs parallel to that of Linden's; Alastair Chisholm bravely exploring what it means to be human with this non-gendered character too, even with the use of pronouns ze and hir. This makes for interesting comparison and contrast. What defines us as human or, indeed, robot? Do we identify with our biology or our 'programming'? Both Linden and Adam-2 are the keys to unlocking these questions in the story, but Chisholm does so through riveting action, twists and dramatic set-pieces. The future world, set in a crumbling war-torn Edinburgh, is superbly rendered, accompanied by Dan Mumford's excellent cover art. The climax of the story, where the robots and the humans meet for 'peace talks', is hugely exciting. In both concept and execution, 'Adam-2' excels. I was utterly absorbed, devouring the book like a robot racing through the pages!
If you want sci-fi for children, Alastair Chisholm is the author for you! I can't wait to see where he takes us next.
Thank you to Nosy Crow for this proof copy to review.