Friday, June 20, 2014
Henry and the...smart human review
Book talk: What would the world be like if robots dominated and humans were an experimental, often buggy technology--only good for menial tasks and incapable of higher thinking? Just ask Henry. He's an average bot going through his tumultuous 13th upgrade. One day a human goes berserko in his mother's shop and they get an experimental replacement. This new human is unlike any he's seen before. He can complete complex tasks without step-by-step instructions and he even likes to play video games and read comic books! Henry knows that humans aren't like robots, but he can't help feeling like this new human is more than just an appliance. Will Henry be willing to risk it all when his new friend needs him to break into the motherboard and fight off the G-bots so they find out how this inconveniently smart human came to be?
Rocks my socks: I absolutely love the sharp wit of this novel and its extended comparisons between humans and robots. This isn't a world after a robot uprising--this is a world where robots were here first and humans are a recent invention. The way Messina draws comparisons between robots and humans throughout the novel is clever and insightful. Much like how human teenagers go through changes that make them emotionally unstable, robots in this world go through a series of upgrades and the 13th is known to be particularly difficult to integrate. Henry has a sort of virus that can make processing information at school difficult for him in a clear analogy to human learning differences. The way this is described with such immediacy will ring true with many students. Little touches such as the descriptions in the human instruction manual kept me chuckling throughout, but there's also a real emotional core to the novel and a sense of adventure as they go off to break into the motherboard.
Rocks in my socks: The secondary characters are a bit flat and the plot fairly standard, much like the video games that Henry loves playing.
Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of robots, humor, and video games. The action never gets too intense--the humor and robot perspective keep it pretty light--and there's no romance. I'd say it's fine for 3rd grade and up.
Lynn Messina has her own website.
There's a great book trailer on YouTube:
Source: school library
Henry & the Incredibly Incorrigible, Inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human by L.A. Messina: buy it or check it out today!