384p. Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson Bks. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481490658.
Gr 5–8—New kid Eric "Slick" Young appears to be a fairly average preteen boy—albeit one who is preoccupied with brand name clothes, social media likes, and popularity. Slick knows he shouldn't hang out with a "friendless loser" like Danny Lazio. Except Danny likes video games as much as Slick does. And he doesn't judge Slick for having trouble understanding humor and sarcasm. The two boys become best friends, and they ultimately reject the popular crowd. Along the way, they befriend another outsider, Ethan, and his sister, Hope, who has Down syndrome. Throughout it all, Danny notices interesting things about Slick. For instance, Slick can memorize an instruction manual after glancing at it one time. People show up to help Slick whenever he gets hurt, even if he doesn't call for help. Slick's pillow is full of wires, and he becomes comatose when he doesn't sleep on it. To everyone's astonishment, including Slick's, it turns out that Slick is an android. What appears to be science fiction tale on the surface is ultimately a universal story about friendship and the power of finding commonalities with those who seem different. Characterization and pacing are particularly strong.
VERDICT Funny, smart, and full of positive messages.

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