Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bot Glut: Robots Rule: Lots of Bots by C.J. Richards

A section of the butler-bot's head melted away, and a moth-bot launched itself into the air as the robot began to spin in a circle. "Foreign Body contamination!" it said, and drove itself into the swimming pool.

George dropped all but one of the towels he was holding. He twisted and hurled the towel over the moth-bot, trapping it on the ground. George brought his foot down on top of it with a satisfying

Now he had proof to show Professor Droid that he was right about Micron and his robotic bugs. He leaned down to gather the pieces carefully in the towel.

A buzzing noise at his back sent a tingle up his spine. He felt the air go cold as a strange shadow spread over the ground. George turned slowly and found himself face-to-face with a massive swarm of deadly moth-bots.

After his near-destruction ordered by the evil genius Dr. Micron, the cyber-talented George Gearing is at last beginning his promised internship at TinkerTech, which is in the throes of the upcoming release of their hot new product, the Mod, something like a super iPod married to Google glasses, but after a series of suspicious accidents, George finds himself shunted off by Professor Droid to cleaning detail under the supervision of OCD-Bot, an obsessive-compulsive cleaner who speaks only in rhymes. Even more annoying is George's special robot Jackbot's romantic obsession with George's nemesis, Patricia Volt's personal bot, Cookie.

But OCD-Bot's janitorial duties allow access to every part of TinkerTech, and George manages to get inside the abandoned office of the imprisoned Dr. Micron to download information about his parents, former TinkerTech employees who disappeared after an unexplained accident. and uncovers a link to the secret Project Mercury. In trouble for being AWOL from his cleaning assignment, George is demoted to work with assembly bots, packaging the Mod in mailing containers in preparation for its media launch the next day.

But people at TinkerTech who are beta testing the Mod are behaving strangely, even the CEO himself, Professor Droid, father of George's best human friend, Ann Droid, who seems to be somehow mesmerized. Suspicious, George swipes a Mod, puts in the contact lenses that form its screen and the earbuds in his ears, and finds out what the Mod can do (besides a constant individualized entertainment and news-feed)--receive alpha waves which effectively suspend the conscious mind and turns humans themselves into robots--bots controlled by (whom else?), Dr. Micron, a sort of nefarious Steve Jobs on steroids whose plan is to control the world through his purported entertainment device.

When Micron discovers that his plan is again compromised by George Gearing, he unlooses his deadly moth-bots and threatens to destroy George's parents, held in suspended animation in the underground Project Mercury bunker into which he lures George, Ann, and Jackbot.

It's a classic BWWAAA-HA-HAAAA! moment for Micron.

"If I could save my atomic data indefinitely, I could live forever. I could be a god!" Micron raves maniacally.

For kids who liked the non-stop chases, bot battles, and bad-guy comeuppances of Book One in this series, The Junkyard Bot: Robots Rule, Book 1, there's plenty more where that came from in C. J. Richards' second installment, Lots of Bots (Robots Rule) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015).

Richard's text is easy, action-packed, and studded with humor, especially in the character of OCD-Bot ("A break is what I do not take!) and the lovelorn Jackbot's AI-assisted yearnings for the truly heartless Cookie. But in the final chapters Richards also introduces more serious themes--George's longing for his parents, the role of friendship--human and robot, and the very real fear abroad in the land of intrusive digital media which threatens of overwhelm the human side of us all. With Dr. Micron still a force and the quest to locate his parents' atomic data to restore them to life, George Gearing has his work cut out for him in the no-doubt forthcoming Book Three of the series.

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