Review: A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

robot in the gardenDate of Publication: May 10th 2016 (first published on Jan 1st 2015)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Purchase: Amazon

What would you do if you found a robot in your back garden? For 34-year-old Ben Chambers the answer is obvious: find out where it came from and return it home, even if it means losing his wife in the process. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben embarks on a journey that takes him and the endearing robot, Tang, to the far side of the globe…and back again. Along the way Ben begins to change, subtly at first, and then in ways that only become clear on his return to the house he’s always lived in.

My review:

In the center of the story, we have Ben, whose relationship with wife Amy is on the brink of destruction due to the fact that he never seems to do anything. One morning, he found Tang in his garden and decided to keep it, even knowing that Amy would get annoyed. In the times when it’s normal to use androids to do your household chores or drive you around, a beat-up old robot is definitely not welcomed in the household. When his wife left, that made Ben decide to go on a trip to search for Tang’s owner. Along the way, Ben grew up and also grew attached to the robot.

The plot is actually pretty straight forward and easy to follow. However, the pacing is a bit slow and for almost half of the novel, nothing seems to be happening, so it is a bit of a problem for me. It’s a short-length book so it was not a very major issue but when Ben went around  looking for Tang’s owner, and the people he met keep on telling him to go here and there, I had this feeling like they were going on a wild goose chase and that just doesn’t bode well with me. There are countless times when I was going ‘What the hell is going on here?’ The writing did not help either as it is a bit inconsistent because there are times when it felt very flat but there are times when the writing is interesting. I think the best part of the book is definitely when they were in Micronesia because I felt like that is the only part where there are actually some actions happening in the book.

There are a few characters that are involved in this story. However, Ben and Tang are the only two worth mentioning and in my opinion the saving grace for this book. There are times when I found Ben so unrelatable but there are also times when I felt that this journey or trip is good for him and his growing up process. I like his commitment to Tang and how they grew attached to each other. As for Tang, oh my god, he is such an adorable robot! I really like his antics, which is likened to a child, and how his character is developed from a barely functioning robot to something that has ‘feelings’. If a robot could have heart, Tang definitely has a lot of heart. Anyway, I love how the writer said in her acknowledgment that she didn’t describe Tang too well (as in how he functions, etc etc) to leave a little room for the readers’ own imagination. I thought that was a nice touch.

Overall, this book is enjoyable enough if you love road trip kind of book but mostly this book is about friendship and the bond that grows between two unassuming beings and that is definitely a beautiful thing to read.

My rating:  1/2

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange of honest reviews. All opinions are mine.


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