Author: Tim Floreen
Pages: 356 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
They look like us, think like us, love like us…kill like us.
In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.
Charlotte’s attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.
But when attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he’s Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.
As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive…and what makes life worth living.
When I picked up Willful Machines, I was expecting it to be like a YA version of the movie Transcendence. Other than having consciousness uploaded to the internet and trying to take over the country, it’s nothing like that. It’s freaking adorable! Lee is the president’s son, but he tries to stay under the radar, especially after his suicide attempt made it into all of the tabloids. Then he meets Nico, and he starts coming out of his shell a bit. But then Charlotte, the first sentient robot (who uploaded herself to the internet), says she’s going to attack in three days, and Lee might be her target.
I immediately loved Willful Machines. I liked Lee right away. He’s honest about his fears and his struggle with depression. He’s afraid of heights and he’s fully in the closet because his dad is the type of president to pass laws that are reminiscent of the 1950s and pushes family values. But Nico is just so freaking cute! The moment he starts flirting with Lee, I was in love! And so was Lee, probably. I just wanted to smoosh their faces together, which they thankfully did for me not too far in. I was a little bummed that this was instalove. Lee goes from very much against doing anything that will even hint that he’s gay, to pronouncing his love for the new boy. It was cute, but I could have done without that.
As for the plot, Willful Machines kept me furiously flipping pages. I totally called the first twist, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it any less. It was just that obvious. But there were plenty of other surprises, twists, and turns along the way as Lee and Nico fight off evil robots! Well, the robots aren’t evil themselves, but something evil starts controlling them. The ending is an open one, but I like to imagine that Lee gets his happy ending. Or at least a happily ever after for now.
Willful Machines isn’t all cute boys flirting and battling technology. There’s a lot of deep stuff that will make you think. Of course, there’s Lee’s depression which is discussed at length. But there’s also a lot about free will and making choices. If a robot has free will and is capable of making their own choices, how does that make them different from humans? If humans are predisposed to make certain choices, how is that different than a machine’s programming? What does it mean to be alive? Do any of us really have free will?
I just really, really enjoyed Willful Machines. It definitely sounded like a book that I would like, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. I was expecting a fast-paced Sci-Fi thriller kind of thing, which I got, but with kissing and feelings!