Hey guys, how have you all been doing lately?
I hope you’ve all been keeping safe and that life is starting to return to some sense of normal for you.
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Robot in the Refrigerator, a story which looks closely at what it means to be human.
Set in a futuristic London, the story follows Andy, a tech-domestic consultant who does all he can to avoid having his personal data stolen. When testing a new, apparently illegal military-grade Droid, Andy finds that he and the machine have a lot in common- both long for freedom. With only a few days to be alive, Andy helps this droid (Dorothea) through its own kind of existential crisis.
Three characters stole the limelight in this book. Andy, Dorothea (the droid), and Hannah (Andy’s strict boss.)
Andy was an unfocused, impulsive and disorganized character, the kind of man you can’t really rely on to get much done. Nevertheless, as the story unfolded, a more caring and interested side to Andy came out as he encountered Dorothea, a droid unlike any he’d ever handled. Their budding friendship was sweet, innocent and possessed a great deal of humanity, regardless of one of them being artificially created.
Hannah, Andy’s boss was unlikable from the start. Strict, cunning and efficient, she seemed more of an android than the ones she surrounded herself with day to day. It felt as if she had merged with the technological world so much that she began to lose her own sense of humanity and compassion.
Dorothea was my favourite character of the year. There was a childlike curiosity to her that really struck me as pure. She was sensitive, thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate, not like how I imagined an android at all. The way she missed many social cues and formalities at first reminded me of my own life and made it easier to identify with her. I quickly found myself rooting for her extended survival.
Likes & Dislikes
I really liked the exploration of the themes in this novel: themes such as sentience, consciousness, humanity, and technological interference in people’s everyday lives. The story showed how machines could potentially have more humanity than certain types of people, who through their bitterness and lack of connection, begin to lack empathy and compassion toward their fellow man.
My one dislike was the random scenes at the tech-shop. The characters working there didn’t seem to have any main purpose in the novel except to fill a gap of some sort. I’m afraid these scenes didn’t add anything to my experience and felt a bit tedious. However this is only my personal opinion and I could have missed a point that the author was trying to make.
It was hard to select just a few quotes from a book which was teeming with much wisdom surrounding technology and our human nature. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to settle on three.
1) ‘Don’t you know how hard it is- to stay true to who you are and what you believe, in a world where you are constantly under pressure to comply?’
I found this to be highly relatable. In a world where there is constant pressure to conform, from school, to work, to our everyday lives with various trends, opinions and the like, it is an act of great courage to defy expectations and be your true self.
2) ‘Everything programmed to death, controlled, life made to fit.’
It’s a scary thought to dwell on but already, I see this happening in our own world. The idea that all people should conform and be as similar as possible to avoid tension makes no sense to me. More and more, people are told they are defective for being different or processing things differently from their peers. Everything seems to hint at only one correct way of being and living.
3) ‘She might not have much time, but she could live what she had, appreciate the moment, value the experience of being.’
This last quote in particular hit me hard. It was part of a beautiful moment where Andy contemplated Dorothea’s wish to simply exist in the world, to have her own shot at life.
Overall, this has been one of my favourite reads of the year. A novel which explores the depth of our own humanity as the world moves on with its artificial technological plan.
Rated: 4 stars.
Recommended to lovers of sci-fi, with themes of artificial intelligence and what makes us human.
Thank you for joining me for today’s review.
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As always, have a wonderful rest of the week,