Obtained: Penguin Random House, ARC
Publish date: June 30, 2015
When I was first told what this book was about, I was at the Random House Book Blogger preview, and one of my fellow bloggers responded to the summary by saying, “So, like Wall-E meets Up?” And no one else in the room could think of a better way to put it.
Deborah Install’s A Robot in the Garden tells the story of Ben – a man whose wife discovers a classic robot in their garden before announcing that she is leaving him. Ben takes Tang, the robot, on a worldwide mission to find who made the little guy and discover how he can be fixed before he runs out of coolant.
Though I went into this book with the Pixar film comparison in my head, I actually found myself laughing out loud at Install’s wit and humour, which was not much different from the feel when watching a Pixar film. A Robot in the Garden was very funny, but also charming, heartfelt, intelligent, and had me “aww”-ing out loud.
Install has created this world where androids are the norm and are often used by those who can afford them as butlers or help around the house, but she also invents this hierarchy between humans, androids, and robots, wherein the latter falls right at the bottom. It is interesting to see how one may compare any sort of minorities (gender-wise, racially, or any number of others) to this new social hierarchy and realize what comments one could make regarding our own society.
Despite the new norm of androids, there are no other real sci-fi elements to this novel, keeping it down-to-earth and easy for readers to relate to the characters. I felt quite attached to Tang, especially, throughout their journey together, and I was actually worried sick about him, hoping everything would be okay.
The only reason this book didn’t earn five stars from me was because endings are a make-or-break thing for me when reading a book, and this one continued when it should have stopped. I quite liked where it was going, but then the story kept on going and I just wasn’t happy where it went after a point. But that’s just my personal preference of what I look for in books.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Robot in the Garden, and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I talk to – so I’ll recommend it to you, too!