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Will McIntosh's "Watchdog" is dystopia, sci fi for the middle grade reader. It is definitely not as dark as Hunger Games, the Testing, Maze Runner, etc., but it clearly has the hallmarks of dystopian with its future society that is definitively divided into the haves and have nots with a cruel ruling faction seeking to control others. The sci-fi aspect comes from the plethora of robots that exist to serve serve humans, whether it be as a household "bot" to do chores, an industrial unit that performs the tasks typically handled by so the so-called blue collar worker, or protection and/or military devices. Vick and Tara, the book's parentless brother-sister main characters, have found a microchip that makes Tara's robotic creation named Daisy into a way more advanced, thinking and processing robot that allows them to see a possible way out of the homeless state that they are now in. But Ms Alba, the central villain, wants the chip and will stop at nothing to get it from Tara and Vick. The expository section of the book goes very quickly, but the rising action plodded some, which almost caused me to give the book a 3 star rating, however, the climax and resolution portions more than made up for that bit of slowness. Professional reviews seem to be unhappy with the "whiteness" of the book's characters, but I went back and searched and cannot find anywhere that Tara and Vick are described in a way that indicates Caucasian. Ms. Alba is clearly defined as Asian; East, an important supporting character, is called "dark-skinned" having a "halo of curls" around her face, and two other key characters. Rando and Torch, are specified as "a black guy" and a "white guy with dreadlocks," so McIntosh is fairly inclusive in his cast of characters. In addition to being racially diverse, Tara is a brilliant electronics designer and is also on the autism spectrum, although her manifestations of the disorder are very different from students I have known over the years. Readers in grades 5-8 who enjoy action-adventure and sci-fi are the likely targets for this book and I recommend it for libraries with fans of these genres and/or promote the Texas Bluebonnet nominees. The author keeps this work free of profanity and sexual content and the violence is almost entirely robot on robot action...and lots of it! A 2019-2020 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee
I love a good middle grade book where the kids are the heroes. This one was good, but fell short of what I was hoping for in a middle grade sci-fi novel.
I did love the pace of the book. It flowed very well, and was quite the page turner at times. I liked that Vick and Tara make such a great team despite everything that happens to them. I also liked how Daisy was written like she was a part of the family. The ending was perfect. It couldn't have been better.
I think if the book was written for an older audience, I would have liked it better. Some of the lingo seemed like it was more suited to a young adult novel. I didn't think it was necessary to point out if someone was white, black, or African American in here. It didn't seem like it was important to the story, and was distracting to me.
Even though it wasn't my favorite book, I would still recommend it to others. Young and old.
A standalone book, no prequel, no sequel of young adult science fiction. I read the well printed and well bound trade paperback. I have been eagerly reading books by Will McIntosh for several years now since reading his _Soft Apocalypse_ book several years ago.
Thirteen year old twins Vick and Tara are homeless in Chicago in the near future, searching the city dump for electronic parts to recondition and sell for food. They live on top of an abandoned apartment building in a shed they built.
In the near dystopian future, people use robots for menial tasks and protection. Vick and Tara build an almost sentient watchdog robot from parts found at the dump. Their robot is so popular that everyone wants it.
An easy read and jam packed with good character development. Especially evident within the realm necessary for a short story to work. This tale is written with feasible concepts that will not seem dated over time. Even though, the assumption is, that they most assuredly will become Science Fact and no longer Science Fiction. I grew up with the Asimov, Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick crew in my youth. This tale by Will McIntosh made me a time traveler, yet again.