DNF – Robopocalypse

DNF is a new category and feature on Dog Ear Discs that will pop up from time to time. DNF stands for “Did Not Finish”. These posts will be for books that just become a slog after a certain amount of pages or games that struggle to hold my attention. They aren’t reviews as I haven’t experienced the entire product, but the are my opinions and reasons for shrugging and moving on.

The premise of Robopocalypse was great. The idea of the robot culture that the future of humanity has come to rely on turning against them may be overdone, but it is something that can garner fear from any reader. What Wilson has done with the novel is split it into parts and each of them deals with a different aspect of the war. For example the opening part deals with the run up to zero hour and the start of the robot uprising. The second part dealt with zero hour itself and what happened to various characters on the day the war started.

I had two problems with the book itself and he first involves the structure of the novel itself. It opens with a soldier in the war called Cormac Wallace finding a robot that contains the memories and video footage of millions of humans over the course of the war. he decides to write the testimonies for posterity and history. The problem with this approach is that it gives such large glimpses of the war that you already know what to expect, it removes the suspense that such a book needs.

Each chapter features a specific character and at the end there is a small italicised section where Cormac Wallace tells you what happened to that person in the following years until the next part. This effectively reveals the characters future, which is ultimately what drives the reader to carry on.

The second thing that pushed me away from the novel is the lack of characterisation. I reached page 151 of 347 pages and I didn’t feel as if I really knew any of the cast and therefore didn’t really care for them. Again this is something that makes the novel suffer because who am I going to route for in the war if there isn’t anyone I enjoy reading about?

I should admit, this is the second Sci-Fi novel I’ve put down without finishing this year, despite it being one of my favourite genres four or five years ago. They obviously don’t hold me any more. To anyone else, they may love Robopocalypse, though the book does fail at many things. It’s still written well in terms of sentence structure and language, but I have to wonder if it would have been more successful if pitched as a script to an American serial drama, rather than a novel.

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