Monday, April 2, 2018

Autonomous ~ Andy Marino (earc) review [@DisneyHyperion]

Disney Hyperion
April 03, 2018
398 pages

William Mackler is about to go on a road trip of a lifetime. After winning a contest—and nearly dying in the process—he becomes the proud owner of Autonomous, a driverless car that knows where you want to go before you do. #Worthit! To sweeten the deal he gets to pick three friends to go with him on a cross-country trip to see their favorite band. For William, a reckless adrenaline junkie, this is the perfect last hurrah before he and his friends go their separate ways after graduation. But Autonomous is more than just a car without a steering wheel. It's capable of downloading all of the passengers’ digital history—from the good, to the bad, to the humiliating. The information is customized into an itinerary that will expose a few well-kept secrets, but it will also force William to face some inner demons of his own. Think you know Autonomous? The real question is, how much does Autonomous know about you?
Autonomous is a bit like KITT, the car from Knight Rider meets 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL with just a bit of the TARDIS thrown in (namely some spatial bits). Really, it's everything that seems cool about self driving cars, only turned so that they will now really creep you out.

Readers know from the very beginning of Autonomous that there is something a bit (or more than just a bit) sinister about the car. That it is not only this amazing technological wonder. How much that is true is what you get to find out as you read.

For me the characters' ages (just graduated high school), their personalities their actions, and the book's tone did not quite match up with each other. It felt like their ages were older so that they could be facing certain challenges or have certain issues, but then, somehow, the book also felt younger. (Though, it's hard for me to identify how or why as there was language, actions, thoughts, etc that were definitely not younger.)

Discovering what a 'thinking' car was capable of and what that could mean when you put four teenagers, with their secrets, lies, expectations, and desires inside it and gave it full access to their social media (and any other digital information) was interesting. It could be fun and unsettling. It could also be predictable (you kind of knew what two characters were up to long before the others.)

Mainly, there was a disconnect for me between the gravity of the characters' actions/issues/challenges/decisions/actions and any consequences or repercussions. I liked what the author was saying about people and relationships through Autonomous and the group's road trip, but for all of the, often, very serious things the characters were dealing with, things were just too okay at the end.

Still,t his can be a fun read for older readers not looking for anything too heavy, for those who aren't sure they like the idea of driverless cars who can 'think' and 'talk' to each other.

(maybe 3.25 stars)

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

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