Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Robot in the Garden - Deborah Install

Man finds broken robot, wife leaves him, man sets out to find someone to repair robot.  Whoa! rewind a bit there!  That was it in a nutshell but such a special nutshell that I want to add more.  Ben is married, his parents are dead, he has plenty of money.  His wife is a barrister, loves her job, and used to love Ben.  Used to?  Well..... Ben gave up his veterinary school place because he has money in the bank, his wife works, he doesn't mind doing the odd bit of housework, and generally he has become a bit of a dosser. And then one day, whilst he is looking out to the garden he sees a small, dirty robot sitting under a tree.

A Robot In The Garden

 Please don't think this is a book for children (although I am sure lots of children will come across this and enjoy it) despite the charming cover, which for me was the reason for picking this up in the first place.  The book is set just a few years in the future.  Robots have sort of come and gone, and many homes now employ androids for cleaning, driving, gardening, etc.  Amy, Ben's wife, would like an android to do the housework, but Ben doesn't see the point when he is at home all day and could do that himself.  Amy certainly does not want a dirty old robot inside the house, so Ben is told to take the robot to the tip. But first, he says "hello?" and the robot whirs a bit and when Ben points to his chest and says "Ben", the robot whirs a bit more and says "Tang!" "Tang!" "Tang!".  Well you can't really dump a bloke now you know his name, can you?  Amy leaves, and it's then that Ben takes the decision to find Tang's maker and get him repaired.  So the first stop is California, where he believes he will find the factory that made him.

I loved the fact that we were in a world where androids and robots were accepted.  I loved the way Tang learned new words and tried them out, slowly, like a small child would learn.  I loved the way Ben just had to keep going to try to get his friend back into proper working order.  It made me smile, it made me laugh - and the last chapter or two had me laughing out loud several times. Don't dismiss this little book because it's about a robot.  Nice easy reading style, plenty of adventure (descriptions of people the pair come across in their travels are little gems) and a not quite perfect ending make this a book I want to buy for every friend who reads.  Not a classic, not a prizewinner, just a lovely funny book for readers everywhere.   (And don't you love that cover?).