Machine wars by Michael Pryor
Random House Australia Children's, 2014. ISBN: 9780857982766.
(Age: Upper primary, lower secondary) Recommended. Michael Pryor imagines a world where domestic machines take over the world and gives us an exciting and amusing tale of courage, friendship and adventure.
Bram comes home one day and realises that all is not right. His house explodes and his vacuum cleaner is after him with murderous intent. Soon he is on the run sought by rampaging and vindictive domestic bots and drones. Luckily his parents have instilled in him that this day would come, and he knows where to go. His mission should he accept it is to buy his scientist mother time while she sorts out the mystery of the robot insurrection.
Accompanied by Bob, his childhood toy duck, now a piece of artificial intelligence and his best friend Stella, Bram seeks to avoid the killer bots and survive for three weeks while his mother finds a solution to the crisis.
Michael Pryor has written an excellent adventure which is also very funny. Bram and Stella are interestingly drawn characters, nerdish and delightful. The dialogue is natural and funny, I chuckled along for most of the story. The themes are topical in the modern surveillance state and our reliance on technology. There is good satire here and great one liners. Bram is an everyman hero in the Cary Grant mould, Stella is drawn as a Hitchcock heroine and their smarts get them through an increasingly desperate situation as the evil bots threaten world domination.
This is a very enjoyable read and a very easy sell to upper primary and lower secondary students. A great book for boys.