Even robot cats have a mind of their own.
All 12-year-old Canadian Lacey Chu’s ever wanted was to become a companioneer like her idol, Monica Chan, co-founder of the largest tech firm in North America, Moncha Corp., and mastermind behind the baku. Bakus, “robotic pets with all the features of a smartphone,” revolutionized society and how people interact with technology. As a companioneer, Lacey could work on bakus: designing, innovating, and building. When she receives a grant rejection from Profectus Academy of Science and Technology, a school that guarantees employment at Moncha Corp., she’s devastated. A happenstance salvaging of a mangled cat baku might just change the game. Suddenly, Lacey’s got an in with Profectus and is one step closer to her dream. Jinx, however, is not quite like the other bakus—he’s a wild cat that does things without commands. Together with Jinx, Lacey will have to navigate competitive classmates and unsettling corporate secrets. McCulloch effectively strikes a balance between worldbuilding and action. High-stakes baku battles demonstrate the emotional bond between (robotic) pet and owner. Readers will also connect to the relationships the Asian girl forges with her diverse classmates, including a rivalry with Carter (a white boy who’s the son of Moncha’s other co-founder, Eric Smith), a burgeoning crush on student Tobias, who’s black, and evolving friendships new and old. While some mysteries are solved, a cliffhanger ending raises even more for the next installment.
A solid series starter for tinkerers and adventurers alike. (Science fiction. 8-13)