Saturday, October 01, 2011

Girl Parts Different ... In A Good Way

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

At first glance, David Sun and Charlie Nuvola appear to have little in common. Sure, they're the same age and go to the same progressive all-boys school in Westport, Massachusetts, but that's it. David, the pampered son of a millionaire computer designer, lives in a towering mansion on the fashionable side of the lake. Charlie lives with his botanist father, attends St. Sebastian's on scholarship, and dwells lakeside not because of fashion, but because of fauna and flora. David, who hangs with the popular crowd, can get any girl he wants. Charlie's a loner who can barely look at a girl, let alone talk to one. Hanging out online is one of David's favorite pasttimes; Charlie prefers an unplugged kind of life.

Despite their differences, the school psychologist thinks David and Charlie have the same problem - they're too disassociated to make genuine connections with other people. To encourage more "human" interaction, Dr. Roger suggests a revolutionary new therapy to both boys. The solution involves purchasing a Companion, a female robot who looks, walks, and talks just like a real girl. To discourage inappropriate behavior, Companions come with built-in intimacy controls - if a boy gets too forward, he gets an electric shock. While Charlie scoffs at the idea of a bot, David's parents immediately buy him a top-of-the-line model named Rose.

Rose is the kind of hot that makes Barbie look like a rag doll, but David finds himself growing increasingly frustrated with her. It's an irritation that's both physical and emotional. Rose, who's programmed to love only David, finds her beloved's response baffling. It's only when she meets Charlie that she begins to understand not all boys are like David. Still, she can't reroute her "feelings," no matter how much she likes Charlie. As the three struggle to find their way in a world that pits virtual reality over virtually everything else, they will finally begin to understand what it means to connect and what it really means to live.

Girl Parts, a debut YA novel by literary agent John M. Cusick, is a multi-layered story about creating relationships in a time when humans are, at the same time, more and less connected than ever. Although the book's disturbing in some ways, it's enlightening in others. It's more than just a meditation on our computer-saturated world, however, it's also an entertaining novel with a fast-paced storyline, all-too-human characters, and a timely moral. If you dig a little twist of sci fi in your contemporary teen fiction, give Girl Parts a go. It's original, thought-provoking and different. In a good way.

(Readalikes: Hm, I can think of some movies, but not books. Any ideas?)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder invectives) and sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Girl Parts from the generous folks at Candlewick Press. Thank you!


6 comments:

  1. Wasn't there a movie with a girl robot? Maybe starring Anthony Michael Hall? This book sounds interesting to be sure. Thanks for the heads-up!

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  2. YES! I couldn't remember the name of that movie, but my husband did (go figure): Weird Science. It did star Anthony Michael Hall. Good memory!

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  3. Wasn't Weird Science also a tv show?

    Sounds like an interesting idea for a book.

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  4. I don't know, Sarah. I remember the movie - vaguely - but not a t.v. show ...

    Okay, after a quick IMDB search, I found a listing for a Weird Science t.v. show that ran from 1994 to 1997. Wow, you ladies have amazing memories!

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  5. This one has been in the back of my mind, simmering since I saw the cover. I think maybe I'll move it up. Thanks for the review!

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  6. Awesome book really liked it, it was weird but in a good way. Wasnt what i expected but i liked it.

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