Rabbit & Robot

448p. S. & S. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534422209.
Gr 10 Up—Cager and best friend Billy, along with their faithful assistant Rowan, are headed to space on the luxury ship Tennessee to escape the multiple wars the United States is waging and to seek treatment for Cager's increasingly dangerous Woz addiction. The boys' fathers are the inventors of Cogs, artificial intelligence beings that are created to serve humans, as well as the creators of Rabbit & Robot, an extremely popular television show rooted in the principles asserted by their fathers. After unfortunate events strike Earth while they are on the ship, Cager, Billy, and Rowan are thought to be the only humans left alive. Cager struggles with his Woz detox and Billy starts to deal with his new life on the ship. A worm makes its way onto the ship and infects the captain (who is also a Cog). This infection spreads to the rest of the Cogs, which makes them cannibalize one another in increasingly graphic ways. Unbeknownst to everyone, humans Meg and Jeffrie are stowaways. Smith's trademark humor and gonzo storytelling is on full display here. Much of the universe is set up within the first half of the book, although it is revealed somewhat confusingly at a leisurely pace (sometimes to the detriment of the narrative flow). Meg and Jeffrie mainly serve as objects of desire or affection. The narrative attempts to tell a story about what makes us human and whether it really matters in the end.
VERDICT Purchase where Smith has a following. Others may find this story inaccessible.

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