Man meets machine in the second act of the war to end all wars: Robopocalypse 2.0.
The first book in this series, Robopocalypse (2011)—a recounting of a war between humans and a powerful new artificial intelligence—seemed like a stand-alone in the manner of Max Brooks’ World War Z, despite its cinematic appeal. Apparently Wilson has decided a follow-up is in order. While this entry maintains the tension of the original’s run-and-gun warfare against a multiplicity of post-Terminator killing machines, the Matrix-like intrigue of the artificial intelligence’s murky origins is lacking here. To catch up, in the first book, the good guys killed the AI called Archos by destroying its mainframe. But early in this book, a copy of Archos reveals to Russian janitor Vasily Zaytsev that many copies exist and are at odds with an earlier version calling itself Arayt Shah. “In response, I triggered the New War,” the AI explains. “I decimated the human race, regrettably. But I did so with one purpose: to forge a hybrid fighting force capable of surviving the True War—a war that has been initiated and is being fought by superintelligent machines. Instead of simply discarding your species, as the others would, I have transformed your kind into a powerful ally.” From there, Wilson straightforwardly revisits his main characters, including the young warrior Lark Iron Cloud of Gray Horse Army; biomechanically enhanced big sister Mathilda Perez; and our third hero, Cormac Wallace of Brightboy squad. Zombie fans will find much to love in the grotesque fusions between men and bots that are essential to the plot. More emotional sequences visit Japanese engineer Takeo Nomura and his robot queen from Robopocalypse and our bold janitor, who advises his robot opponents, “I may be a simple man, but I am very good with an ax.”
A satisfying but perfunctory installment that suffers from a bit of second-act similarity.