BOOK REVIEW: ROBOT OVERLORDS / AUTHOR: MARK STAY / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 12TH
Robot Overlords – Robots Never Lie is the novel adaptation of the motion picture Robot Overlords, a feature about an invading force of alien robots who oppress humanity and the four plucky teens who oppose them. A good novel adaptation of a movie concentrates on doing things that can’t be done with CGI. A good Young Adult novel isn’t afraid to pull punches for the sake of its readership, and Robots Never Lie achieves both in spades.
Author Mark Stays (who also wrote the screenplay) evokes the oppressive terror of post-invasion Earth using the broadest strokes, whilst zeroing in on the things common to everybody’s childhood. This is one part boy’s own adventure and one part dystopian nightmare. There is a strong thread of innocence and youthful pluck throughout the tale, as well as a dire warning about the dangers of technology and surveillance. It’s the sort of thing that makes for a memorable read, and the sort of thing that would delight readers both young and old.
Stay focuses on the emotional journey of the characters as well, and it’s easy to relate to the protagonists situation, despite it being (quite literally) alien. This heady mix of innocence and terror makes for a thrilling and page-turning read. It’s refreshing to see a novel pitched at kids where teenagers actually speak like teenagers; all too often we get a sanitised version of childhood which bears little resemblance to anything one would encounter in the playground. The kids in Robots Never Lie are the survivors of an alien invasion after all, so they’re inclined to a spot of salty language. They’re also motivated the way the inexperienced are, with a mix of optimism and naivety that makes the gang’s improbable adventure very believable indeed.
Robot Overlords – Robots Never Lie is an easy read, but it’s not a light tale. Deliciously scary in all the right places, it’s a compelling book. Like all good novelisations, it adds an extra dimension to a story already told in another medium. Recommended, especially if you like giant robot-driven dystopias.
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