Sunday, 16 June 2013

iD by Madeline Ashby

iD by Madeline Ashby is the sequel to vN, which I reviewed last year. It picks up not too long after the first book ended and deals with the consequences of events in the first book. This review will contain some spoilers for vN but not for iD. It's also the kind of series you have to read in order for it to make sense; iD depends on a lot of worldbuilding laid down in vN.

iD starts with Amy and Javier, our two protagonists from vN, living a reasonably idyllic life with Javier's kid (from the first book) treating them both as his parents... and then of course, everything goes horribly wrong. The majority of the book follows Javier as he tries to fix things (like the world and his life). We also learn much more about his character — who was more of a friend/sidekick figure in book 1 — and about his past. Amy isn't in it very much.

The first book dealt a lot with sentience and humanity through Amy, a vN without a failsafe. (The failsafe being the coding which makes the vN shutdown/bluescreen/die if they harm a human or through inaction allow a human to come to harm.) By contrast, Javier has an intact failsafe and his story is more about exploring his identity independent of humans and interrelationally with humans. The reader is confronted more often with the reason why vN make good prostitutes/lovers — because the failsafe makes them want to make humans happy, they feel compelled to be good lovers even though they might not normally be interested. What constitutes rape when it's done to a robot? Is sentience enough to condemn it as a deplorable act or does the fact that the vN don't feel pain mean it isn't really rape? These and other interesting questions are addressed as we follow Javier's journey.

I have to say, I didn't enjoy reading Javier's character as much as Amy's. Not because he was badly written or anything, more just a matter of personal preference. I was interested to see what would happen next, what was going on in the world and how it was all going to turn out, but I felt ambivalent towards Javier. I can see why Amy wasn't the point of view character this time, but I do hope Javier isn't the focus of the next book. Maybe one of the kids will be.

I originally thought this was a duology, although in retrospect that's probably because I've read so many Angry Robot duologies recently rather than any specific marketing I saw. I did think it was going to wrap up until I got to the end and then BAM! Epilogue! So I'm fairly confident there'll be a sequel even if the internet won't confirm that. And I look forward to reading it. The epilogue set up a potentially very interesting book three.

I enjoyed iD and I definitely suggest reading it if you enjoyed vN. If you're new to the series, I highly recommend it to fans of science fiction and/or robots and suggest starting with book 1. I look forward to reading about this world and the characters in future books.

3.5 / 5 stars

First published: 25 June 2013, Angry Robot
Series: Machine Dynasty, book 2 of ?
Format read: eARC
Source: The publisher via NetGalley

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