Saturday 20 August 2011

Review: Girl Parts by John Cusick

Girl PartsGirl Parts by John M. Cusick

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? 

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uberconnected world.

I loved the premise of this book when I first read it. It actually seems like it could be a very real possibilty in the not too distant distant future, in a world where some people can have hundreds of facebook friends and be very outspoken on online forums, but be very isolated and withdrawn in real life. More and more people seem to struggle with the basics of face-to-face conversation, and have no clue how to talk to people, what to say, and it's not uncommon to meet someone new who can't even make eye contact with you.

I think I liked the idea of this story, better than the execution of it. There are a lot of points in the book that are just skipped over, and we never really get to genuinely know any the characters. David didn't seem to be very disassociated to me, he is just a jerk- and likewise there is nothing wrong with Charlie either, he is very sweet and very capable of conversation and asking a girl on a date, it's just that he is very shy, and lacks confidence. I also thought it was quite disturbing that a lot of the other boys with companion dolls were taking them to backstreet mechanics to get the electric shocker removed, and nobody seemed to think that this was wrong or did anything about it. The only character that I did like was Rose, the "companion doll", who started to develop a real personality and sense of humour all on her own, while not really helping the boys to mature at all. She has to adapt to everything that is unfamiliar to her and in struggling to cope she also starts to form her own opinions and make her own choices.

Overall the whole book felt kind of rushed and the ending was extremely unsatisfying. A lot was still unexplained. I felt that this book was trying to convey a parody on modern society, and deliver a moral message but that it kind of missed the mark.

Here is the Youtube promo video from Candlewick Press:

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