A 12-year-old loner makes friends with a popular classmate—who just happens to be an android.
Danny introduces Slick’s story by telling readers how it ends: Slick is dead, he was murdered, and he was an android. This is Slick’s journal, Danny explains, and he’s publishing it because he wants everyone to know the truth. In chapters that shift between Danny’s and Slick’s perspectives, readers meet Danny’s dead best friend as a blond and blue-eyed new kid who has recently moved from New York City. Slick (real name Eric) thinks he’s a regular kid: He’s focused on how many friends he has on Kudos, enthralled with his many pairs of Slick sneakers and his Oldean T-shirts—he is so brand-obsessed he sounds like a present-day social media influencer—and ignored by his equally popularity-hungry parents. But he bonds with Danny over the one thing he loves that isn’t popular: the online game Land X. Their friendship is a first for both of them: Danny’s first friendship at all and Slick’s first friendship that isn’t just about popularity. But can they keep Slick safe from his creators? The satisfying revelation of Slick’s strangeness contrasts engagingly with the absurd humor of this odd-couple friendship, and Vaughan executes her satire effectively for an audience that may not be accustomed to it. Both Slick and Danny present white.
A timely parable for this generation of digital natives. (Science fiction. 9-11)