Friday, 11 April 2014

Review: Machine Wars

Machine Wars by Michael Pryor

Title: Machine Wars
Series: none
Author: Michael Pryor
Published: Random House Australia; 2014
288 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):

Unknown to the world, a superintelligence has emerged - and it wants to eliminate Bram Argent...

The superintelligence can control any machine connected to the net, and it uses them as its unstoppable agents to achieve its ends. And the superintelligence is paranoid. Controlling the entire world is its only way to ensure its own existence.

Bram's mother is a high-level computer scientist. She's been investigating the possibility of the emergence of a superintelligence and she has evidence. But the superintelligence has become aware of her - and decided she needs to be eliminated. Now she's in hiding.

Bram must flee and find his parents - while being hunted by every machine on the planet. His friend Stella is caught up in the pursuit and becomes a target because of their friendship. Together, they must survive in an interconnected world where any machine might instantly become a lethal predator . . .

My Thoughts:

2.5 stars

Machine Wars was an interesting and quick read that, while entertaining, was somewhat disappointing. I think I set the bar a little too high for this, seeing that I have loved
Michael Pryor's other series, The Laws of Magic which would, in fact, have to be one of my all-time elite favourite series. The characters are lovable, hilariously witty and mysteriously charming; the plotline is always baffling in the best sort of way, keeping my on my toes, bewildering me but loving every possible second; and the vibe of the steampunk society that Aubrey lives within is one of my favourite settings in all the series I have read. With all this in mind, I have to admit that I expected that level of wonder in Machine Wars as well.

However, I didn't realise that this was a middle grade book, and while I normally do not shy away from those sorts of books, I struggled to appreciate the overall simplicity of this. The plot could have been so much more involving if the battle scenes been more drawn out, if the good guys hadn't won so easily and if the junkbots and killbots had actually been scary.

The characters were a little too immature for my liking and the protagonist a little too, well, wussy and pathetic really. He cried a little too much and almost vomited at the sight of his barely nicked ear - I prefer my MCs with a little more kick and oomph, sorry. Bob was a great comic relief however and I enjoyed his witty remarks.

What let this down most of all was the lack of development in the actual artificial intelligence apocalypse that had sent our characters into the predicaments they were in. I understand that the targeted audience would be a little below understanding the actual technicalities of it. Hell, I am below understanding it all but I would have appreciated more profound effort attempting to explain it more than Bob's scuba diving metaphor.

Overall, I enjoyed the premise of this book but found that the age barrier significantly effected me from being able to relate to both the characters (even though they are only a year or two younger than me) and lowered by tolerance for the simplicity of plotline and its resolutions. If you are looking into
Michael Pryor, I would strongly recommend trying out Blaze of Glory instead.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Michael Pryor and Random House Australia, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.

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