Adam and the other sentient, robot Pioneers return to battle evil Sigma, who targets Adam's hometown and everyone he loves by pitting the Pioneers against one another.
In this mission, the Pioneers are acutely aware that their high-tech bodies are prosthetic—not immortal. Their vulnerability, combined with civilians' fear of or pity for their robot forms, raises unexplored comparisons to their former disabled bodies. But while the Pioneers frequently explored the differences between their human and robot selves in The Six (2015), here they could well be humans with superpowers. Adam's emotions are analogous to humans', but his analyses could dull readers' reactions. The rules of robot romance (robo-mance?) are clever, but it's unclear how—even with sensors—the Pioneers can feel emotions so intensely without organs. However, if neuromorphology can apparently outstrip some laws of physics, mechanics may be moot. This superpower creates another deus ex machina, which suggests ominous consequences for technological evolution but also cheapens Adam's earlier vulnerability. Though emotion is technically crucial to the plot, action overwhelms it. Fans of Transformers might enjoy the robots' diverse weaponry, but Adam's dense blow-by-blow battle narration also makes the action potentially hard to visualize. (Robots seem to be able to process onslaughts of information effortlessly, but readers may not.) An abrupt cliffhanger sets up the next book.
Worth reading for its unanswered questions if not for its heart. (Science fiction. 13-16)