iD: The Second Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby

July 14, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★★

Taking up close to where vN left off, iD follows Javier’s journey to set things right after everything goes wrong on Amy’s island. Although I liked the book well enough, I feel that some of the magic was missing, and I’m not convinced that Javier is as compelling a protagonist as Amy was.

Javier makes a few silly decisions throughout this book, and the idea behind them is that he lacks the freedom to have done anything differently. While the focus of vN was very much about the rights that a robot can expect in the human world, iD closely explores the consequences of the failsafe in robots. The failsafe ensures that robots freeze or blue-screen if they harm a human being, or witness harm being done to a human being and fail to interfere (like Asimov’s three rules, but subtly different). The failsafe is the reason that Javier, initially programmed for the use of humans to gratify their … cravings, is especially vulnerable. The question of whether a human can rape a robot, especially one that is compelled to do everything it can to make sure humans are happy, is at the forefront of this story. I’m not sure how I felt about it. I think it’s an interesting, compelling question to ask, but I soon tired of just how many sexual interactions there are in the book. It made me deeply uncomfortable to see Javier treated that way, and to see him use sex as a tool to get the answers he was after. But this is very much the idea behind the book.

I liked getting to see other communities of robots, and especially learning what they thought of Amy, her rebellion, and her island. I think these interactions provided a lot of information about lives of different castes of robots. The world has also expanded so we get a feel for what humans feel about robots as well – the last book was filled with humans who wanted to control Amy because her failsafe wasn’t working, but this book features humans on a broader spectrum.

I had difficulty connecting with the plot of iD – something about it failed to engage with me. Most of this can be attributed to the change in protagonist – as I outlined before, he failed to really click with me. However, I also think this book is less thrilling in general, and iD feels like it was extended or padded out. A lot of the action could have been condensed into a shorter, punchier book, in my opinion

Overall, iD is an enjoyable read, but I struggled with the changes in protagonist and focus. I liked getting to know the story-world a lot better, and am still sufficiently invested in the characters to be excited about the next book in the sequence.

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