Published by: HarperTeen on January 8, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon • Goodreads
Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.
Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky—they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.
Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance. Written by debut novelist Gregg Rosenblum, this gripping story shouldn't be missed.
Revolution 19 is so far my biggest disappointment of winter 2013 releases. I thought it was going to be AMAZING! With a great cover and a great blurb, I envisioned a crazy world thrown into war and chaos, with Terminator Transformers whooping ass left and right and a group of brave teens standing up for FREEDOM and THE FREE WORLD and THE RIGHT TO LIVE! What did I get? A book that reads very much like a lame cartoon with 12-year-old “save the world!” kids as the main characters.
Let’s start with the world building: that’s easy because there was none. I read the blurb about how robots were designed to fight human wars and then turned their weapons against the humans. I thought OMG THIS IS AWESOME! I’ll get to learn all about this war, why and how humans created robots, what went wrong, maybe they got too intelligent or there was a glitch in the software, and how the robots decided to take over the world, and what steps they took, and what their end-game was….. nope. None of that. The ONLY piece of world building information we get is in one tiny paragraph in the beginning that basically reiterates the synopsis.
At first we called it system-wide malfunctions when the robots stopped fighting at exactly 2:15 P.M. Greenwich mean time, August 17, 2051. They had been designed by humans to fight our wars, but for twenty-two hours the battlefields were silent. We called it a blessing and the beginning of a new peace. Then when the robots began killing again, now targeting their human commanders, we shook our heads and called it fatal programming errors. When, a day later, the skies over cities on six continents grew dark with warships, we began to understand. And when the bombs rained down and then legions of bot footsoldiers marched into the burning ruins, killing any humans who resisted and dragged away the rest of us, we finally called it what it was: revolution. Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
That was the end of the world building. After that, we just know the robots are there and accept it. No more questions answered. No more world developed. That’s it.
If you’re going to write a scary robots-take-over-the-world sci-fi book—the kind that people love to imagine might happen—why would you make the robots lame? This is the stuff people love to fantasize about! They love imagining extremely high-tech humanoid robots with fierce intelligence and crazy weaponry. So please explain to me why you would choose to load up your book with robots that just sound… lame?
[The robot] was roughly the shape of a man, but broader, taller, more boxlike, and rolling rather than stepping.
Their faces were the same dull metal as the rest of their bodies, flat and featureless except for two rectangular openings where eyes would be.
Robots that are boxlike? They have WHEELS? Their faces are flat and featureless? Are we talking about WALL-E? Is that what we’re so afraid of? When I imagine robots—especially ones that take over the world—I imagine looking into their HUMAN-LIKE eyes and seeing fierce, scary intelligence. I imagine them being scary and metallic, but also molded in the human image—not boxlike. The more similar they are to humans, the scarier the story. But instead of going that route, Revolution 19 loaded up its book with robots that are essentially big boxes on wheels.
Okay, onto the characters. I didn’t care about any single character in the book. First, apparently they’re teenagers:
“How old are you?” asked Mrs. Tanner.
“I’m seventeen,” said Nick. “My sister is fifteen, and my brother is thirteen.” Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
But ALL of them act like 12-year-olds. They’re all immature, make stupid decisions, and bicker over ridiculous things. Oh and Lexi “flirts” the way a girl might flirt in 6th grade.
“[Kevin] hated when Nick called him ‘Kid.’ Like Nick was so grown up and Kevin was just a useless little child.” Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
The character development was non-existent. Each character is given a very specific personality at the beginning of the book, and they maintain it from start to finish. They don’t grow, they don’t change, they don’t get better. Kevin is the tech geek who is miraculously some kind of computer/tech genius, despite living in the forest all his life. Anytime he seems a comm or a TV or any piece of technology he goes “OMG I HAVE TO LEARN EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS!” Cass is the sporty girl. That’s about it. She’s athletic, she runs fast, and any time there’s any kind of sports or movement-related thing, she just dominates at it. And then there’s Nick. Since Nick is the oldest, he’s the “brave” one who’s all self-sacrificing and has to leap into all danger (stupidly) in order to “protect his family.” This results in him making loads of stupid decisions that oftentimes compromise their goal. One example:
Lexi takes Nick & Co. to the re-education center, where they think maybe their parents are being held. Lexi gives them one simple instruction: don’t get too close. The area is surrounded with CPs and if they get too close, the robots will spot them and apprehend them immediately.
“Can we get closer?” says Nick. [..]
“No,” said Amanda[..]. “Come on, let’s go back.”
“Amanda’s right,” said Lexi. “Not safe.”
“Come on, just a few blocks closer,” said Nick. He knew it wasn’t smart, that he was pressing his luck, but they were here now, and he had to get a closer look.
“I need to get closer.” [Nick] took a step toward the checkpoint.
Lexi grabbed his arm. “No, you idiot!” she hissed.
“I need to look!” Nick said, too loudly, yanking his arm away.
The robot, with a graceful burst of speed, glided over the kids’ heads and then hovered in front of them on the sidewalk. “YOU WILL HALT AND RECEIVE YOUR INFRACTION, OR YOU WILL BE DETAI—” The robot cut itself off mid-word and began pulsing a bright red. “YOU ARE LACKING IDENTIFICATION IMPLANTS. REMAIN HERE AND YOU WILL BE PEACEFULLY DETAINED.” Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
So Lexi says “Don’t go closer, you’ll get caught” about 8 times, Nick doesn’t listen all 8 times, Nick gets caught and almost captured, Lexi (smartly) runs away, then when Nick sees her next, he thinks to himself:
He grinned back at her, feeling his cheeks flush, but then reminded himself, as he broke into a jog toward the door, that Lexi and Amanda had abandoned them back at the re-education center. Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
Yeah, she abandoned you because YOU didn’t listen to her and YOU got yourself caught. Did you seriously expect her to stick around and risk her life for your stupidity? [/rage] Kevin made countless stupid decisions like this that ultimately didn’t help anyone. It was extremely frustrating for me to see him make bad move after bad move, and it’s not like they were stupid decisions that happened to have a good outcome.. most of them were just really pointless and if anything, they jeopardized their goal.
Finally, the plot. The reason I compared Revolution 19 to a cartoon, is because it has that “kids have all the power” vibe. Robots take over the world, the poor helpless parents get captured, and only the kids can SAVE THE WORLD! Sounds like a cartoon, does it not?
And like a cartoon, this book is also riddled with happy coincidences. Any time something goes wrong, someone shows up to save the day. The kids are lost in the forest, and a random dude stumbles out who they get directions from. The kids go into a restaurant, order their food, realize they have no money and don’t know how to pay, and they meet Lexi, a girl who decides to help them because she’s bored. The kids are being chased by robots and have nowhere to hide, and they run into a sympathetic storeowner who lets them hide in their basement. The kids can’t go around town because they don’t have identity chips, and Lexi happens to know someone who can make fake ones… etc.
And before anyone gets excited, there is no romance in Revolution 19, even though it was promised in the blurb. There is a 17-year-old boy (or a 12-year-old in a 17-year-old body), and a similarly aged girl, but that’s it. They kiss ONCE, randomly. But there is no romance. There is no flirting (unless you count the girl calling Nick a “rock star” a million times), there is no sexual tension, there is no love, there is no lust; there is only one silly kiss.
“You broke out?” said Lexi. “And made it across town again?” She smiled. “Now you’re just trying to impress me.” Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
At the end of the day, Revolution 19 might be a book geared towards kids.. Like 12-year-olds. It has that vibe; it has characters who feel really young, it has a somewhat ridiculous plot that may appeal to daydreaming young’uns, and maybe to a 12-year-old that boy-girl relationship might seem romantic. But for your average young adult, Revolution 19 sums up to being very sub-par on all levels. If you’re looking for something dangerous, dark, intense, and full of frightening robots and mind-blowing action, don’t read this book. Go read Partials by Dan Wells instead. Now THAT’S a book about creepy, intelligent robots taking over the world. And it’s epic.