Title: The Obsoletes
Author: Simeon Mills
Publisher: Skybound Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Page Count: 320
My rating: 3 stars
About the book:
The Obsoletes is a thought-provoking coming-of-age novel about two human-like teen robots navigating high school, basketball, and potentially life-threatening consequences if their true origins are discovered by the inhabitants of their intolerant 1980s Michigan hometown.
Fraternal twin brothers Darryl and Kanga are just like any other teenagers trying to make it through high school. They have to deal with peer pressure, awkwardness, and family drama. But there’s one closely guarded secret that sets them apart: they are robots. So long as they keep their heads down, their robophobic neighbors won’t discover the truth about them and they just might make it through to graduation.
But when Kanga becomes the star of the basketball team, there’s more at stake than typical sibling rivalry. Darryl—the worrywart of the pair—now has to work a million times harder to keep them both out of the spotlight. Though they look, sound, and act perfectly human, if anyone in their small, depressed Michigan town were to find out what they truly are, they’d likely be disassembled by an angry mob in the middle of their school gym.
Heartwarming and thrilling, Simeon Mills’s charming debut novel is a funny, poignant look at brotherhood, xenophobia, and the limits of one’s programming.
The Obsoletes by Simeon Mills is a young adult read that is a science fiction urban fantasy that takes place in the 1980s. In this story there are tons of references to events taking place in that decade to bring readers back to that time frame but in this version robots are advanced enough to blend in and live as humans but certainly not embraced as equals.
The story is told from the point of view of Darryl, the oldest of two brothers who are actually robots living in hiding while growing up and going to school. Darryl takes us back a bit in the opening chapters of the story to elementary years and having parents before heading into the “now” part with Darryl and Kanga as teens in high school and their parents gone from their lives.
The biggest portion of the book is simply about Darryl being determined to keep anyone from finding out about them and Kanga being young, daring and careless. The story actually felt quite strong and compelling in the beginning but got to be a bit monotonous to me.
A part of me wondered if it was just Darryl’s “robot” voice narrating which could get a bit to telling instead of showing or maybe it just seemed like chances at bigger events got dropped along the way. But regardless in the end this one was just OK to me and I would have liked a bit more to it.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
Find this book online:
About the author:
Simeon Mills is a graphic artist, writer, and teacher. He majored in architecture at Columbia University and received his MFA in fiction from the University of Montana. Simeon now teaches middle school English in Spokane, Washington, where he lives with his wife and two children. Visit SimeonMills.com.