In this coming-of-age diary, a girl navigates life in a dystopic near-future.
By the year 2049, the world has become a rather unfriendly place for humans and robots alike. England is divided into color-coded zones, parts of the African continent are shadowed in mystery, and very few humans are still able to procreate. Any woman who can conceive and make it past the first trimester is whisked off to live as a Mother. The global robotics giant Oxted has filled the familial void with the teknoid, “an android that specifically looks like a child.” Teknoids are upgraded several times to mimic growing children before the company reclaims them around the 18th birthdays, provided that the parents can maintain the illusion and never enter the Uncanny Valley of disbelief. Through the diary of Tania Deeley, Powell has created a terrifyingly plausible future. Readers follow Tania through six years of her adolescence, as she realizes she’s a teknoid, finds love, embraces grief and ultimately discovers her own humanity. The author pays homage to the genre’s giants while combining realistic characters (both human and android) and detailed worldbuilding with an unpredictably optimistic conclusion. In the end, the thoughtful balance of narrative and description and the well-paced plot are marred only by a mildly distracting subplot that unreels in interstitial “Intervals.”
An auspicious debut. (Science fiction. 13 & up)