by Helen Fox
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–In Fox's futuristic world, starvation and homelessness don't exist but the boundary between the haves and have-nots is vast. The best jobs and latest technological inventions go only to the economically elite technocrats and government leaders. Curfews are enforced because marauders often attack these wealthier citizens. LifeCorp, a huge conglomerate, controls much of the new technology. Even though Gavin Bell's parents are only middle-class professionals, they, like most people, have a family robot. Unfortunately, Grumps is an older model that's beginning to malfunction. They can't afford a BDC4, a sleek new robot that is almost unnaturally clever, so they take on Eager, an experimental model secretly produced by a former LifeCorp scientist. Although his older sister is embarrassed by Eager's unattractive appearance, Gavin is intrigued by the robot, which can learn, reason, and even lie. Before long, the siblings notice that there is something strange and frightening about the BDC4s. The machines begin rebelling against their owners, and when they take the head of LifeCorp hostage, it's up to Eager to save him. There is a lot of warmth and humor in this engaging, Jetsons-like novel (complete with talking houses and appliances). The characters are well developed and the action moves quickly. The author also raises thought-provoking questions about what it means to be human, the dangers of technology, and the concept of free will.–Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ
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