JF Dubeau’s debut novel, The Life Engineered, begins in the year 3594, where humanity is little more than a memory a legend of the distant past destined to reappear. Capeks, a race of artificial creatures originally created by humans, have inherited the galaxy and formed a utopian civilization built on the shared goal of tirelessly working to prepare for their makers return.
One moment a cop dying in the line of duty in Boston, the next reborn as a Capek, Dagir must find her place in this intricate society. That vaguely remembered death was but the last of hundreds of simulated lives, distilling her current personality. A robot built for rescue and repair, she finds her abilities tested immediately after her awakening when the large, sentient facility that created her is destroyed, marking the only instance of murder the peaceful Capeks have ever known. For the first time in their history, conflicting philosophies clash, setting off a violent civil war that could lay waste to the stars themselves.
Dagir sets off on a quest to find the killers, and finds much more than she sought. As the layers of the Capeks past peel away to reveal their early origins, centuries-old truths come to light. And the resulting revelations may tear humanity s children apart and destroy all remnants of humankind.
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
It has been a very strange year. I guess by now it is obvious that my reviewing rate has significantly slowed. Not much help for it, but for those I am late getting to I sincerely apologize.
I requested this months ago on a science fiction kick because the premise sounded interesting. Kind of iRobot meets AI. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well as those did for me.
For dealing entirely with artificial intelligence entities, the author does a credible job of tugging on the readers emotions, though one could wish the theme wasn’t “Kill the mothers”. But the rest of the narrative was disjointed and engaging on only the most superficial level, as were most of the characters excepting the main protagonist.
It is metaphor and analogy with significant religious overtones attempting to span a large-scale, and in my opinion it doesn’t quite succeed, being clumsy and heavy-handed where a certain level of elegance seems called for. And while I decry the killing mothers theme, this does seem to beg for the writer to kill his darlings. This isn’t a very long book but often it seemed to take twice as long for him to have his say as was actually needed, but without the luscious turns of phrase as other authors who have made similar (in my opinion) missteps.
Where the book succeeds is in the sweeping battles, logic exercises, and the action. And those parts I could absolutely have read more of. And I do want to know more about what has happened Skinfaxi, Belanos, and Koalamos and the Dormitory. And I definitely want to know what else Adelaide might have had up her sleeve and how her mission shook out.
And Dubeau did a hell of a job snagging my attention with the teaser for the sequel.
But do I recommend this book? Tough to say. I won’t be rereading it unless too much time elapses between now and the sequel. But, I am almost absolutely sure I will read the sequel. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. My rec is up in the air with this one read, at your own risk.