Another Test of the Human Experience - Willful Machines (Review)

So, where do I start with this review? I LOVED Willful Machines. Everything about this book is phenomenal, from the writing to the characters to the story that was perfectly paced and ready for you to highlight and tab. It's SO quotable.

Usually when I saw a grin that big on people, it made me want to shake them and ask them what there was to be so damn happy about. But not with Nico. His grin just made my knees feel squishy.

This book makes me knees feel squishy. ANYWAYS. Willful Machines stars Lee Fisher, a shy boy who is trapped in the closet thanks to antiquated thoughts held by his father who is also the President, and Nico, the new kid in town who is smoking hot, slightly mysterious, and determined to get to know Lee better. They're joined by a cast of supporting characters that include the President, Lee's (dead) scientist mother, Bex (Lee's BFF), and Lee's grandfather, who runs the school Lee and Nico go to. Oh, and Charlotte, the zombie AI who may or may not be causing havoc around the world.

But aren’t our choices determined by our programming too? Our genes and our environment and all that? Aren’t we basically just robots ourselves?

Set in an undetermined (but futuristic) timeline, the world of Willful Machines is most terrifying because of how realistic it is. This is the dystopia that could happen in our lifetimes. The people fear robots, who have become so human-like that they demand rights or they will fight back. It's a civil war that no one is going to win. The humans have practically become archaic in their thinking to "protect" themselves; again, no one is winning. It's practically nonsensical, which is too close to the world we live in now.

“The real question isn’t whether 2Bs are alive,” she said. “It’s whether humans are anything more than machines. But I have a feeling you knew that already.”

Willful Machines, much like Boy Robot and The Diabolic, explores what it means to be human. It explores free will in a way that will have you questioning yourself like no other book has. The arguments posed on either side will have you deep in thought.

Within the story, there's a significant romance subplot between Lee and Nico. If you're not cheering for them, then you might have a heart of ice. Their romance is so dang cute. There's also a lot of action/thriller, especially in the back half of the story. There's something for everyone here, packaged in writing that keeps you entertained the whole way through.

Willful Machines is a book I let sit on my TBR for far too long. Don't make the same mistake! 


by Tim Floreen
Published: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Quarterly Box (right? Annotated, too!)

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte's attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he's Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive ... and what makes life worth living.


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