Recommended for ages 10-14
Henry is a young teen robot in his 13th upgrade. He’s not the popular kid at school, and he has a faulty processor that comes from a virus that attacked his system when he was younger. When his father’s boss shows up at their home one night with a new human model to test for the market, Henry is thrilled – his own human! But this human isn’t a slack-jawed, drooling blank slate like most humans are. This one makes up words, can do things without extensively detailed commands, and doesn’t want to sleep in his box because it’s not comfortable. At first, Henry is worried – what if this human goes berserk like the one that went on a rampage in his mother’s business? – but he comes to realize that the HueManTech ETC-420- GX-2, or “E”, as Henry calls him, is a very special model.
Unfortunately, Henry’s not the only one who thinks “E” is special, which leads to a taut race to unravel the truth about E, especially when the government begins showing an interest in E and Henry’s family.
The book starts out slow as Ms. Messina establishes the drudgery of Henry’s young teen life – mocked at school, boring job at his mother’s spa, Henry is the lonely kid who takes comfort in his comic books and video games, until something exciting – E’s arrival – sparks up his life. Even then, the narrative moves at a slower pace as Henry discovers how special E really is. But once the plot kicks into motion, involving the government and the origins for both E and Henry, the story moves at a great pace that kept me turning pages and wanting to know more.
The book, available via e-book format, is a good read for tweens and young teens. It provides a wealth of opportunities to discuss what would happen in a society where robots were on the top of things and humans were the creation; it also offers chances to discuss morality and the government. It would be a good discussion group story for educators to encourage among their students and patrons.
Lynn Messina’s website offers a book trailer for Henry, along with fun extras for readers.