Sunday, February 3, 2019

Review - The Little Android

The Little Android (The Lunar Chronicles #0.6)
by Marissa Meyer
Date: 2014
Publisher: Wattpad
Reading level: YA
Book type: short story
Pages: 35
Format: e-book
Source: Wattpad

The Little Android is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles by New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer.

When android Mech6.0 saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programming. Androids aren’t meant to develop impractical reasoning or near-emotional responses…let alone fall in love.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

WARNING: Minor Spoilers! To read this review with the spoilers hidden, check it out on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I haven't read the entire Lunar Chronicles series. I stopped after slogging through Scarlet because I just wasn't enjoying the books. This short story highlights some of my issues with the main series, and adds a couple more.

Meyer's insistence on calling all small robots "androids" still drives me to distraction. An android is, by definition, a robot that has a human-like form. From what I can tell, Mech6.0 is not human-like at all in the beginning (nor was Iko in the main series, but she was still called an android). So this bothered me... but perhaps not quite as much as how the robots in the story are actually portrayed. "The Little Android" actually reads more like fantasy than science fiction, because some of the plot points are more magical than scientific. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that a robot's AI could evolve to the point where it experienced something akin to feelings. However, the whole thing with Mech6.0 feeling actual pain (something that's supposed to be impossible for a robot) isn't plausible. You might be able to build and program a robot to feel something like pain, but if those physical structures aren't there to begin with, they're not going to suddenly appear out of nowhere. I get that the author was trying to follow the story of "The Little Mermaid" by having Mech6.0 feel pain when she walked, but it was just a little too unscientific for me.

Just like in the regular series, the cyborg discrimination is present and prominent. I still don't understand what that's all about, and the more I come across it in Meyer's stories, the more uncomfortable it makes me. If you're going to write about a society that basically views amputees as "other" and something to be feared and loathed, there had better be a damn good reason for it. After reading two novels, one graphic novel, and a short story set in this world, I've yet to come across a satisfactory explanation for this dehumanizing prejudice.

I also think the ending is ridiculously simplistic and actually creates a new problem... that would probably be resolved in the next few minutes, rendering the final sacrifice meaningless, other than as a nice gesture. Needless to say, the ending didn't satisfy me.

Maybe it's because this was published on Wattpad, but it's got quite a few technical problems with the writing. I don't see why it couldn't be cleaned up a little, especially since it's now part of the official TLC canon.

I'm not sorry I read this one, but mostly because it just reaffirmed for me that TLC just isn't the series for me. I've contemplated continuing the series at different times, but now I think I'd just be punishing myself with books I wouldn't enjoy. If you like the novels in the series, you might get more out of this than I did.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall Rating: 2.43 out of 5 ladybugs

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