Review Detail

Cog
Kids Fiction 351
You need your own robot!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Cog looks like an ordinary twelve year old boy, but he is an advanced android that the scientists at uniMind use to watch learning (cognitive development) behavior. He lives with Gina, who functions as his mother and sets him to do certain tasks so she can watch how he handles them. Often, he does not calculate the entire impact of his actions (like saving a chihuahua from being hit by a truck by getting in front of the truck), which makes him very much like the average middle school student! When his latest exploit leads to him being returned to corporate headquarters, he is not happy there, especially since Nathan, one of the scientists, wants to alter his "mind". With the help of Trashbot, Proto the robotic dog, a computerized auto named Car, and his sister, ADA, Cog breaks out of uniMind and sets off on a mission to find Gina. Cog seems to have odd powers that can occasionally control other robots, which is why uniMind wants to study him, so they are of course in hot pursuit. The group of gizmos gets into all sorts of scrapes along the way, many involving the unwise use of Car! ADA turns out to be a destructive/offensive unit, so has some untold depth of weaponry and tactics hidden within her system, which helps the group evade capture for a while, but they are eventually brought in by the police. When Nathan arrives to take them back to headquarters, Cog knows that he doesn't have their best interest at heart. Will Cog be able to prevent his brain being probed for the unknown X-Module that gives him extra capabilities?
Good Points
Cog is a fun character, and books with road trips, especially when it's escaping evil scientists, are always in demand. I loved ADA and her latent destructive capabilities! This is a book that had my children read it when they were young, they would have gone around acting like Cog and reenacting scenes from the book! Readers who enjoyed Patterson's House of Robots or Richards' Robots Rule! series will enjoy this one.

The futuristic setting is somewhat dystopian, but not enough to be scary. We don't see too much of the outside world, being more concerned with the robots and their adventures, but what we do see is not significantly different than reality. It's only when we see Cog's world that things seem definitely like science fiction. Although, with the companion robots they have in Japan, is it that far fetched?

Van Eekhout does great middle grade science fiction books, including Voyage of the Dogs, The Boy at the End of the World (2011), and Kid vs. Squid (2010). Readers who like robots will read about Cog and wonder what it would be like if Siri or Alexa would come to life in their house!
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