Monday, January 2, 2017

'THIS IS ME' by C.E. Wilson REVIEW (Spoiler Version)

Note: This review was supposed to be posted back in October, but it took me longer to finish than that. With that said, I still hope you enjoy this review. I had fun writing it and getting some steam out!! 


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Synopsis


A-SIST
Anthropomorphic Sentient Individualized Servile uniT

Rogan is a robot. More specifically, he is an Asist – a personalized humanoid servant that provides protection, assistance, and companionship for a lonely young woman living on her own in the city. Chloe is trying to get her big break, singing at bars and clubs all over the city at night while she pays the bills as a substitute teacher during the day. Ever since she activated him many months ago, Rogan has been her beautiful, dependable, obedient, dead-eyed security blanket.

One morning she is shocked when he disobeys a direct command in an attempt to please her and his dull artificial eyes flash a hint of something new. Is this the result of the adaptive Asist servility programming or is Rogan actually thinking? Can a robot think? Can a robot feel?

As Chloe struggles with these thoughts she is blindsided by the singular Niven Adams, a handsome, confident man with the voice of an angel who is everything she’s ever wanted in a boyfriend. He’s the perfect guy for her, except for one problem. Niven doesn’t approve of Asists and takes an immediate dislike to Rogan. As Niven charms his way deeper and deeper into Chloe’s heart, Rogan tries to convince her that he is more than a mass-produced disposable servant.

With Rogan doing everything in his power to prove that his thoughts and feelings are real and Niven trying to persuade her to abandon her robot and have a normal human relationship, Chloe is trapped between the two things that mean the most to her. Does she embrace her relationship with the blond newcomer, or face that her Asist’s feelings may be more than features of his programming? 

What really makes a person a person?
Is it a ticking muscle inside their chest, or is it something more? 


Review

The Bad: Normally I would begin with thee good parts of the novel first, but seeing as how I gave this two out of five stars, I should get some things off of my chest. First of all, while I did not hate this book, I had a very hard time getting into it. 

The main characters, Chloe, is an African-American (or at least I assume she is) substitute teacher at a high school, who had gotten Rogan, an A-SIST, as a gift from her parents. Rogan is introduced as a combination of a guide, protector, friend, roommate, friend with benefits, and all the more without claiming him as a boyfriend. And I began to feel badly for Chloe because I could tell that she wanted to live her life with her Companion, but the outside world made it so hard to support her. However, herself as a character wasn't very bright either. Most of the time, she spent her time deciding which guy to go for --- a normal human like Niven, or an interesting, funny, intelligent, brave, and honest ASIST like Rogan. 

Even when she was at school working with her teacher friends Monica and Fitz, Monica was completely against the idea of ASISTs becoming more than just computers and machines forced to be servants. I actually became so annoyed by her character; even when the others had good reasons about ASISTs, Monica always had to have a snappy comeback. 

But throughout the book, I realized why Monica had a huge problem with ASISTs; her father left her mother for a female ASIST, tearing the family apart and breaking her trust in them completely. I can understand that; I felt a bit of sympathy towards her and her feelings of a broken family. However, Monica's character as a whole fell into the typical Latina I've read in most books --- fiery, fiesty, always about having a good time and partying all the time. She didn't give me anything more to get into her character and remember her. 

Going back to Niven, I couldn't stand his character at all. He treats ASISTs like that are computers and slaves, never occured to him that they could be more than that. Thant they could have "hearts", feelings, emotions, and some humanistic abilities. When he finally gets with Chloe as his girlfriend, he sinks even lower as a human being by setting his friends up to violently beat Rogan down in a bathroom, leaving him for death. Thankfully, Rogan was able to be revived, but I hated how Niven's hatred for ASISTs resulted in actually hurting them. Even though he didn't hurt Rogan himself, the fact that he made his friends do it shows what a disgusting character he is. However, I shouldn't have been surprised because the synopsis hints that he's a bit of an asshole (actually really an asshole). It gets even worse when Chloe invites him over for Thanksgiving, only to find out that when he was in high school, he and his friends did the exact same thing to a few other innocent ASISTs. Man, the Asist-Racism is real... (that's what they call people like Niven in the book.)

Also, I was disappointed that I didn't know the world outside of the Niven-Chloe-Rogan love/pain-fest. How did ASISTs get on Earth? Were they made or created by special forces, like the government or the Army? How did this world come up with the idea to make them for so many people? And if Rogan is one of some who can actually feel human emotions, what does that do for the rest of society? There is mention of a Help Center, where ASISTs go for assistance in the case they get hurt or need an upgrade on new software. But other than that, I didn't catch any other hint as to how these robots were built. It would have been fortunate to know more about the science of them.

I also couldn't figure out what time period this book was set in. Also in terms of world-building, we don't know what year this is made in. It's not exactly dystopian but it makes references to Mary J. Blige and other contemporary artists of today. 

The Good: While this book's pacing was hard to get into, I enjoyed Wilson's writing for what it was. She was very descriptive on the characters' emotions. 

Furthermore, I loved the relationship between Fitz and his ASIST-Mini, Bree. Bree reminded me of Iko from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. They're both very small for their size, but their huge personalities make up for it. Bree is so sweet and charming, and she doesn't take any shit from nobody!! Especially from those who hurt her friends. Fitz wasn't a bad guy either. He was very charismatic and delightful; he also loved Bree dearly and did anything he could to protect her. I'd wanted to see more backstory between the two of them rather than Rogan, Chloe and Niven.

What was also interesting was, the more I began to dislike Niven and Monica, the more I'd thought about the possibility of them getting together. Think about it: they both lost people they loved to ASISTs; they both hate the robots and are disgusted with them cohabiting with them; and they both think their looks will get them far. They're actually perfect for each other!

Improvements for Future Books: What Wilson could improve on for her next book is to focus more on the world outside of the relationships. This book is heavily based on sci-fi and fantasy, and yet I still feel like I know next to nothing about the its universe. If she chooses to write a sequel or spin-off based on This is Me., it might be a lot better to focus on the world rather than the characters.

Final Thoughts: Again, while I did not completely hate this book, I don't think there were enough good points to overshadow the frustrating and overbearing ones. I wish Wilson all the best in her future endeavors.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Have you read 'This is Me.'? Let me know in the comments below. 


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