Pinocchio and Wall-E meet Escape From Witch Mountain in this heartwarming sci-fi novel.
Cog (short for cognitive development) is a 7-month-old android who looks 12 and is eager to learn more about the world. Designed by Gina, a scientist for uniMIND with whom he lives, Cog spends his days slowly learning all about what it means to be human, from grocery shopping to learning wisdom through making mistakes. After an accident results in Cog’s being taken from Gina and locked in the main uniMIND headquarters, he becomes painfully aware of the sinister side of the organization. Refusing to spend any more time as an experiment, Cog escapes along with ADA, his sister android, and several others and attempts to find Gina. In his latest novel, van Eekhout (Voyage of the Dogs, 2018, etc.) brings considerable heart and wisdom to this coming-of-age tale. The central relationships between Cog and Gina and between him and his sister—all of whom are brown-skinned—feel heartbreakingly human and provide a timely example of the difficulties of being an outsider. The author nicely inverts gender roles, making Cog introspective and shy while his sister—a weapon android—is brasher and braver; watching the pair grow together as they explore humanity provides pathos and humor.
A thought-provoking tale for younger readers about hubris and what it means to be human. (Science fiction. 8-12)