William Campbell Powell
I received an advance copy of this book through the Around the World ARC tour.
Releases on April 22, 2014
YA / SciFi / Robots
What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows?
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….
Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.
Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?
Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.
It makes me very happy to find great science fiction, especially YA scifi, which can almost follow a pretty formulaic pattern. Toss in robots and I am a happy girl. William Campbell Powell’s Expiration Day is one of those happy surprises that surpasses its premise early on and becomes a genuinely surprising piece of robot science fiction. While the story is built around the scifi elements, the story itself focuses on questions of humanity – what qualities separate human from machines, what makes life worth continuing, where do prejudices begin, the importance of the parent/child bond to the society. These more serious themes are hidden behind the standard story about teenage self-discovery and gaining independence.
Tania lives in a world where human children are rare and a company named Oxted has stepped in to create lifelike humanoid robot children to maintain the illusion of family and the continued survival of the species. There are occasional mentions of riots and disasters after the population found that the specie-wide fertility rate had dropped next to nothing. It’s a bit of a jump to accept that human-like robots could put a stop to the complete denigration of societal norms, but the story was so compelling and Tania is a smart character that I was happy to go along with the conceit.