Book Review of Robopocalypse (Robopocalypse, Bk 1)

Robopocalypse (Robopocalypse, Bk 1)
reviewed on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2


You know that song by the Flight of the Conchords, "Robots"? You know, the song with heartfelt lyrics such as "We used poisonous gases, And we poisoned their asses. The humans are dead." and "Come on sucker, lick my battery." Well, this book kind of reminds me of that song, but the bloodier R Rated version, with much meaner robots lacking any semblance of a robotic sense of humor.

We've seen it all before, robots are developed to such a sophisticated level that they begin thinking for themselves and decide to wreak havoc on the fragile human race. In this particular instance, one robot in particular (Archos) believes has a pretty severe superiority complex and begins controlling machines from every corner of the globe, instructing them to do his dirty work, with the ultimate goal of ridding the planet of human life, thus returning it back to nature. Not exactly the most original plot line, but I really was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Sadly, I wasn't.

My biggest qualm with Robopocalypse was in the method Wilson used to tell the story. You see, we are being told the story after the robot uprising and "New War" are all said and done. Each chapter is told by the narrator, Cormac Wallace, who is piecing together the history of the uprising from data contained within a small black cube that was unearthed after the war. Specially the story focuses on key human characters from around the world, all fighting to survive.

Now, while I can appreciate Wilson's approach, I felt this ultimately lead to a rather jumbled mess, as each chapter felt disjointed from the next. I imagine that writing a novel about a robot uprising impacting the entire planet would be difficult, considering the broad scope, however I really would have like to have seen Wilson take his time and fill in the gaps more cohesively. Massive chunks of time seemed to be lost from chapter to chapter and ultimately the entire effort felt rushed and erratic. What bothered me most of all those was the short excerpts at the end of each chapter which either included completely unnecessary foreshadowing of events to come or a few sentences laced together that quickly told the outcome of specific plot lines, as if Wilson simply grew lazy and felt that these brief passages would suffice over actually taking the time to tell the story. Sigh.

Sorry one second, I feel the need to belt out a binary solo.

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Phew ok. Now that that's out of my system, I didn't exactly dislike the book either. I found the chapters discussing the details of the uprising intriguing and downright creepy. Who doesn't get creeped out by talking robotic dolls or driver-less cars mowing down anyone crazy enough to leave the shelter of their homes? Wilson, who has a Ph.D. in robotics, definitely showed off his knowledge on the subject by creating some incredibly frightening mechanical creatures, especially once the robots began evolving...like the "Pluggers" which were small spherical machines that would embed themselves within human flesh, working their way to the heart where they would explode, causing instant death. Kinda reminds us of those crazy flying spheres in the 70's horror film classic, Phantasm.

I also enjoyed the fact Wilson touched on how nature began reclaiming its territory as time passed, with moss and vines taking over streets and buildings and all forms of wildlife growing more abundant, living in areas once populated by humans. Oh, and robots setting up floating biological research stations to study flora and fauna?! Good stuff, but I wish this had played a larger role throughout the novel.

All in all I feel that Wilson squandered what could have been a great book. While exciting at times, it was simply too rushed and incoherent. As I understand it, Steven Spielberg will be making this into a movie in the near future, which will likely end up being one of those rare instances in which a movie is markedly better than the book it's based upon.

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