The Obsoletes

Simeon Mills. Skybound, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-501-19833-5
In his fantastic first novel (after the graphic novel Butcher Paper), Mills provides a clever twist on the high school bildungsroman. Set in an alternate 1990s, Darryl and Kanga Livery are twin brothers dealing with the typical angst of freshman year, except that they are also robots. After their parents (also robots) disappeared five years ago, Darryl took over as caregiver for the more reckless Kanga. Unfortunately, the brothers live in the robophobic city of Hectorville, Mich., and thus must conceal their true identities or risk destruction at the hands of their neighbors. Staying safe means acting as human as possible while hiding that they sweat oil and grease, plug into electrical outlets to recharge, and can’t digest food. But when Kanga develops a preternatural talent for basketball, the brothers’ lives come under dangerous scrutiny. Kanga begins to rely less on his brother and puts both their lives on the line by hanging out with robot-killing teammate James Botty. In turn, Darryl becomes less cautious while pursuing the affections of Brooke Noon, the oddball basketball team manager. Mills creates a world where what it means to be a teenager is deliciously complicated, and Darryl, a consummate yet dissatisfied robot struggling to figure out his own programming, ends up being a wonderful guide to it. While the ending doesn’t tie up all the story’s myriad implications, this intelligent comedy will captivate readers. (May)

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly referred to this book as the author's second novel. This review has also been updated for clarity.

Reviewed on : 02/13/2019
Release date: 05/14/2019
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-5011-9834-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-9311-8
Ebook - 978-1-5011-9835-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-9309-5
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