“The capital-A Automatons of Greco-Roman myth aren’t clockwork. Their design is much more divine. They’re more intricate than robots or androids or anything else mortal humans could invent. Their windup keys are their human Masters. They aren’t mindless; they have infinite storage space. And, because they have more than one form, they’re more versatile and portable than, say, your cell phone—and much more useful too. The only thing these god-forged beings share in common with those lowercase-A automatons is their pre-programmed existence. They have a function—a function their creator put into place—a function that was questionable from the start…
Odys (no, not short for Odysseus, thank you) finds his hermetic lifestyle falling apart after a stranger commits suicide to free his soul-attached Automaton slave. The humanoid Automaton uses Odys’s soul to “reactivate” herself. Odys must learn to accept that the female Automaton is an extension of his body—that they are the same person—and that her creator-god is forging a new purpose for all with Automatons…
The novel calls itself a “Prose Epic,” but is otherwise a purposeful implosion of literary clichés and gimmicks: A Narrator and an Editor (named Gabbler) frame the novel. Gabbler’s pompous commentary (as footnotes) on the nameless Narrator’s story grounds the novel in reality. Gabbler is a stereotypical academic who likes the story only for its so-called “literary” qualities, but otherwise contradicts the Narrator’s claim that the story is true.”
I got an ARC of this book from the author.
So the double pen name was super intriguing and if I am being honest, if was my absolute favorite part of this book. I was pretty convinced that the authors were a master and an Automaton, but sadly that is not the twist at the end. I will not reveal the twist, but I was let down by it. It really fit the story in a way which is why I am mad. It was like a puzzle piece with the picture scrapped off, yeah it fits, but it totally stands out.
My biggest issue with this book is the random racism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism. There are times when I put the book down for a week or more, because I was just fed up with it. Then I would see it on my nightstand or in my backpack and go “I wonder what happens” and start reading again. It took me four months to read this book (not all of this is the book’s fault either and more could be added to that post about my just terrible luck four months). The actual author, not the “authors”, is clearly aware of these issues and handles them differently depending on the character. So it did give some depth, but the transphobia and sexism at the end really didn’t do anything for the story. The racism gave character and defined some characters. The homophobia helped define relationships. The transphobia just made me cringe. A character pointed it out as sexism, but even one of the newer characters joined in and refereed to a queer male character as a woman trapped in a man’s body, then made a lesbian joke. None of this was useful for the story and it just sat the wrong way with me. I am giving the author a chance and hoping it was those characters and not a reoccurring theme, since they did seek me out and I am not exactly stealth.
The plot is exactly the sort of plots that I love in video games. It was complex and over the top. There were some really good one liners. Some off the wall motivations. Some puns. If this were to be a video game I would want it to be a mixture of a Hideo Kojima game and a game like Life is Strange. I can just imagine the game switching between the twins and having to interact and adjust to this wildness. It would be SO FUN.
The book is wild. Even with my issues, I couldn’t let it go. I ended up reading the first chapter three times. It was just overwhelming and graphic and it really was the attention grabber. If things had been told the way the narrator wanted, then I probably would not have been as hooked as I was. It was a train wreck of godly proportions or it was so well orchestrated that all will be revealed in book two, either way I will be reading book two.
I have talked about this enough that at least one person has bought it to try it over the four months. I can’t even describe this book without it sounding like a conspiracy theory or that I making it all up. It defies description. It might be a speculative fiction or maybe just sci-fi? Even nailing down a genre isn’t working. I can’t imagine what made the author come up with this idea. Automatons? Somewhat eternal life? Medical experiments on children? Rape through coercion? Incest? This book really has everything and not in the way that you think. One of the twists at the ends undoes like half of what I thought I knew and made it completely different. This really is a Kojima sort of book. It is wild, sometimes long winded back story, but then each backstory drastically changes the world.
I am so happy that I have the second book already and that I don’t have to wait for it to be published. I have so many questions and I am not sure I need any of them answered, but I also can’t look away. I am just sort of floating in this plot. I might need a day or two to really let this all sink in and really see how those last twists changed things. They changed so much, but not in a way that detracted from the book, instead it gave the book more depth and captured my attention.
4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.