Monday 6 February 2012

Girl Parts

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781406334340
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The idea for this book is distinctly out of the ordinary but with a very current theme. It focuses on the effects of technology on today’s society and its invasion of people’s personal lives. It written in a humorous style and exhibits a flair unusual for a first novel. The author is a literary agent of books for children and teens.

The setting is Westtown where all the prime land around the man-made lake belongs to David Sun’s father, a computer magnate. All, that is, except the small piece that Charlie and his dad, refuse to give up. They are thought of as weird because their idea of perfection is a natural existence.

The story opens with Nora committing suicide on a video blog with 750 people watching. Someone could have, but no one tried to stop her, for in Westtown frightening statistics had emerged. ‘Cases of moral apathy, suicide, and anhedonia’ were on the increase. This proved the suspicion that many ‘interpersonal relationships’ were ‘increasingly crowded out by electronic distraction’ and that the young people at St Sebastian’s had become disconnected from reality.

A behavioural specialist/counsellor is brought in to help the boys relearn how to reconnect with the moral side of life.  Mr Roger ‘a pioneering researcher of Teen Dissociative Disorder’ is associated with Sakora Solutions - a company that makes female robotic Companions (in several models) David’s parents coerce him to accept a solution to his indifference to drinking and driving, and immoral habits in the form of Rose. She is the original model-type and perfect in every way. (The only thing that can decommission her is total submersion in water)

Rose is connected via satellite to a data bank at Sakora Headquarters. Her Intimacy Clock has a security system and she learns things by listening to and repeating others, and through data transferred to her wiring.

David believes he has found the perfect partner. Her demure manner and moral stance moves the vain David. Although he is initially envied by all his friends, David quickly becomes frustrated when he finds Rose has a set of ethical standards that he simply can’t overcome, and robotic companions are not made of the stuff that humans are. David returns to his old ways and breaks off with Rose. Everything literally goes hay-wire.

The weird yet wonderful Charlie steps in and saves Rose’s life when she too, tries to commit suicide. But Rose is not the same. A series of entertaining yet sad and frightening events are set in motion and we discover that the world we are reading about is similar to the one we are living.

This is a terrific Science Fiction future read and many frightening truths are hidden within. It is witty and light-hearted, yet it addresses a great issue. 

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