Cover Image: Adam-2

Adam-2

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Member Reviews

I was really looking forward to reading Adam-2, especially after reading Alastair Chisholm’s brilliant Orion Lost. I am pleased to say it did not disappoint. 

Set in a futuristic Scotland, humans and robots have been at war for centuries. Unfortunately for humans, they require far more supplies in order to survive, and whilst out on a run for provisions, two children discover the robot prototype named Adam-2.

The humans soon discover that this particular robot may be the key to stopping the war…
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Nosy Crow in exchange for an honest review.

I went into this with high hopes having heard nothing but praise for the author's previous book. Even then, this book surpassed my expectations. When a short scene about a character growing vegetables makes you cry, you know you're reading a good book!

The story is set 200+ years in the future in a world where humans and robots with advanced intelligence are at war. I don't want to say much about the plot as it's definitely one of those books where I'd advise going in knowing little and discovering what it's about along the way. 

What I will talk about is how I felt whilst reading. Right from the beginning, this book was pulling at my heartstrings, making me smile and posing interesting questions for me to ponder in between reading. I loved the skillful way the author wrote scenes that were so simple on first glance but actually conveyed complex ideas and questions about what it really means to be human. 

The characters were all wonderful. By this, I don't mean that they were all good, as there were a lot that were more grey than simply good or bad, but they all fit into the story wonderfully. I loved the inclusion of a non-binary character and their preferred pronouns, especially in a book where gender wasn't one of the main themes. 

Even though the book is set far in the future  there's a lot of themes covered that are relevant today. I would love to read this book with a Year 5 or 6 class because the discussion we could have throughout would be brilliant. Towards the end, I began to wonder how the author would end things as the problems posed seemed so big, it would be almost impossible to solve them in a believable but also satisfying way. I needn't have worried. The ending was just the right amount of hopeful, realistic and bittersweet for me and having only just dried my tears from the previous page, I burst out sobbing all over again at the final scene!

This is one of the best books I have read in recent years and I would recommend it to readers aged 10+ who like speculative fiction and futuristic stories. It would be a great read for those who are fans of Philip Reeve, Jonathan Stroud and Struan Murray.

Content: as you might assume in a story involving wars, there is some content about death and how characters are dealing with their grief.
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3.75 stars 

Adam-2 is Alastair Chisholm's latest middle grade sci-fi adventure, following the story of Adam-2 a robot who lives in a basement repeating his days over and over until one day a couple of humans stumble upon him and he emerges into a world fraught by war between humans and sinister robots known as Funks. I really loved Orion Lost, the authors other middle grade sci-fi book so this book had a lot to live up to - and it was just as much fun whilst still delivering on some great life lessons which was one of the things I enjoyed so much about Orion Lost!! 

In addition to Adam-2, who was a very adorable robot just trying his best to make the best of choices available to him and trying to solve the conflict between humans and funks with a unique perspective. I liked how kind Adam was and how he always tried to find a peaceful solution. We also have Linden, a character who has quite a lot of anger and resentment towards the robots but must try and work together with Adam and set aside differences. We also have Runa, who was a really sweet character and I loved her friendship with both Adam and Linden. Additionally I really liked the adult characters in the book, they definitely had a lot more moral greyness than our protagonists and added an interesting element and conflict to the story.

I thought this book explored incredibly well the concept of AI sentience and autonomy, as well as the concept of free will and the purpose of living. It would be a great introduction for young readers to some major themes of science fiction and has some really great philosophical discussions and lessons while still being a really fun fast paced adventure. I was very impressed with the ending of the book - I thought a lot of the themes had great real world parallels and the needless violence that can stem from conflict based on misunderstanding and the greed of a very powerful few. The resolution of the conflict was very touching and had a great message - I always love this in a middle grade. 

I also really loved that one of the main protagonists was non-binary and used neo-pronouns. This was just accepted as normal and I think its really great that kids can see this kind of representation in fiction - whether for themselves personally or just to gain a better and more empathetic understanding of those who may be different from them. 

In conclusion, a really enjoyable sci-fi adventure story full of great lessons on empathy, understanding differences and conflict resolution whilst still being packed full of action, mecha battles and a great plot which slowly unravels a mystery with loveable characters and a lot of heart!!
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An incredibly enjoyable and cinematic sci-fi adventure. Intelligent, captivating and beautifully realised.
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Adam-2, a robot, has been locked in the basement of a lost building for over two hundred years, following a daily routine – until one day he is discovered by two children, and emerges into a world ruined by a civil war between humans and advanced intelligence. Hunted by both sides, Adam discovers that he holds the key to the war, and the power to end it – to destroy one side and save the other. But which side is right? Surrounded by enemies who want to use him, and allies who mistrust him, Adam must decide who – and what – he really is.

Over the past few years, there has been a distinct lack of Sci-fi books for children. Thankfully, this situation is changing. This is Chisholm’s second, and is even better than his debut in this genre, Orion Lost, which was excellent.

Adam-2 is told from two points of view – the robot, Adam-2, and one of the humans, Linden. It is good to finally read a story with a non binary main character (using the pronouns ze/hir), who is integral to the plot.

Adam-2 is not like the other robots, he can think and imagine scenarios, not just follow programmed orders. He can also learn and apply his knowledge. He is also immune to the EMP charges that the humans use to temporarily disable robots they fight against. Adam-2 has to work out what has happened to create, and prolong, the long term war between the humans and robots and find a way to end the war and bring peace.

There are various themes throughout – war/peace, friendships, family, trust and the rights and wrong of developing AI. Via Linden, and the influence hir mother (and her death) has on hir, we witness the struggle to work out the right path to take and also the power of telling stories, both to the teller and the audience.

I enjoyed Adam-2 and thoroughly recommend it. 5 star plus.

Thanks to NetGalley and Nosy Crow for the eARC.
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As a veteran Sci Fi fan, I am always interested in this genre for MG readers. Having read Orion Lost and really enjoyed it, as soon as I saw this book coming out I knew I would have to read it.

Adam-2 has been alone for almost 244 years when Linden & Runa unexpectedly find him in his basement home. The humans are wary, having been at war with a robot army for the same amount of years.  Adam leaves his father's home and is amazed to see the change that time has wrought, he has a lot to learn, puzzles to solve and big choices to make about the future of everyone, including himself.

This book is both exciting and well written, I really couldn't put it down. It is not a run of the mill robot story and the characters are interesting and behave and interact realistically.  Adam's dilemma, when he is shown both sides of the story, will really make you think.  The plot never quite reveals which way Adam will decide, while he is figuring out what is the 'right' thing to do. I would have perhaps liked to know the back story for Della and the Cailleach, but perhaps this means that there may be be a prequel or sequel to come? I can only hope so!

Favourite quote from Adam's internal monologue;

"He should make sure they liked him this time. Perhaps he hadn't smiled correctly, before?"
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Having stated recently that there seemed to be a lack of decent science fiction books for middle grade readers, I have come to the conclusion that they are – in fact – rather like buses, because this is the latest of several cracking titles that have come along in very short succession. This is something which has absolutely delighted me as, together with fantasy, sci-fi is definitely one of my preferred genres. Although I try to provide a broad range of reads for my class, until now the science fiction section on my shelf has been pitifully small and I have been trying to expand it with the same sort of high quality reads that fans of detective stories, for example, can choose from.

And having that choice is important. Yes, I have some children who are open to reading more or less anything, but equally there are those who once they have found a book that they really enjoy want something similar to tempt them; with a narrow range of titles to choose from, it is not always possible to provide them with what they want. When I saw this new read up for request on Net Galley, and read the accompanying blurb, it really appealed to me and after reading it I am sure that this will be a great addition to my little library shelf when it is published in a couple of months’ time.

Adam is a robot – one who follows a strict routine day after day in the basement where he lives alone. Each day is pretty much the same as the last until one day the door is pushed open by two humans, Runa and Linden, who enter and start to look around. When the light from the torch that one of them is carrying falls on Adam, he introduces himself and the intruders start to talk to him to try to work out whether or not he poses a danger to them. Replying to their questions, Adam tells them that he is a Funk – a machine with Functional Consciousness – and is rewarded with an electromagnetic shock from a frightened Linden as a result.

Rather than destroying Adam, the shock temporarily stuns him, and when he recovers he is most insistent that he wishes no harm to the humans. When they leave the basement, Runa and Linden come across a significantly less-friendly robot and as they try to flee are surprised by Adam who has followed them out and then helps them to escape from the building before accompanying them back to where they have come from.

The other humans are also deeply suspicious of Adam and he is thrown into a pit after being fitted with a collar which he is told will shock him again if he tries to escape. But Adam is not like other robots and when he finds a way to leave the pit, the humans decide to give him a chance to help them. As he goes about trying to prove that he means them no harm, Adam becomes aware that the people he has met are at war with the robots and is caught between the two sides. Will he decide to side with the humans or the robots in an attempt to stop the fighting, and what will the outcome be?

Stories of wars that have reached a stalemate are nothing new, but here the idea is given a fresh and original feel with the inclusion of Adam. When he is discovered by Runa and Linden, he has been alone for over two hundred years and has no idea that instead of robots working for humans, and being programmed to cause them no harm, they have been bitterly fighting them as a result of how they perceive they have been treated and he is at a loss to know what has gone wrong. With his higher level of programming, and ability to question what is happening and make reasoned judgements about what he experiences, Adam shows a huge amount of humanity but his inability to empathise with flesh and blood people leads him to not quite fit in with either side. By applying logic and learning about the world as it now exists, he is forced to reappraise everything he thinks he knows and act in accordance with his conscience to try to bring about peace.

In addition to being an exciting and thrilling futuristic story, this is the first I have read where one of the main characters is nonbinary. Yes, I have read other books which are inclusive in their characterisation but this is the first where the individual concerned not only appears throughout the whole story, and is integral to the plot, but also uses the pronouns ze and hir, rather than they/their, which I have seen elsewhere. In the same way that I have never knowingly taught a child who is trans, I have never knowingly taught one who is enby, but the chances are that I have and how frustrating it must have been for them to not see themselves reflected in the books available for them to read. With my children slowly becoming more aware of celebrities such as the singer Sam Smith who identifies as nonbinary, it is so, so important that we reflect that in school and allow all of our children to see that we are not all cishet until it becomes accepted as normal and bloggers such as myself no longer feel it necessary to comment.

This is a brilliant read which had me gripped from the very beginning, and is packed with twists and turns right up until the end. Suitable for Year 5 upwards, it would make a great class reader to discuss so many topics – not just gender and the rights and wrongs of war, but how technology will evolve and whether or not sentient robots should be classed as living things with rights and responsibilities similar to humans. I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to get my sticky mitts on a proper copy to add to my shelf.

As always, enormous thanks go to publisher Nosy Crow and Net Galley for my advance read, ahead of publication on August 5th. A fantastic 5 out of 5 stars.
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