Review: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Revolution 19
Gregg Rosenblum

HarperTeen
Released January 8, 2013
272 pages
YA / Robots / Dystopia

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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.

So Revolution 19 has robots, which is a win. It’s the start of a series, which can be a little annoying. But robots, so win, right?

Revolution 19 is no Robopocalypse. I’m not even sure I can say that it’s Robopocalypse-lite. There are few moments of tension and the characters are kind of flat. Despite the robot menace, it’s not until the last moment where I actually found them even remotely frightening, and that isn’t good when you’re reading a book about killer robots suppressing the human race.

After a short prologue, Revolution 19 picks up about 15 years later, following the story of three siblings, who find themselves lost and searching for their parents after the robots attack their forest village. They trek through the forest to the menacing City in hopes of finding their captured parents only to find a picturesque scene of peacefulness and obedience. Yeah, there are giant hulking robots and floating spheres patrolling everything and shooting people who disobey with lasers, but mostly it’s a nice place as long as you follow the rules.

I enjoyed Revolution 19 on a surface level. It had robots that try to create the perfect society, claiming that it is for the sake of the survival of humans. Had the developments of the final page appeared earlier, then this would have been a much creepier story, but instead the robots have no personality and it’s always the personality that makes it. Instead they are big hulking machines that are only good for shocking people or the more human-like ones that teach the re-education classes to help those who lived in the forest towns become productive members of society. Despite that it was a fun, light ride that I did enjoy. I just think it’s probably going to be forgettable.

Rosenblum is apparently a television writer, and if that’s true, it shows. He forsakes character development for action and moves the plot along. That helps when you want to cram everything in less than 300 pages, but it doesn’t do you many favors when you’re attempting to tell your story from three different points of view. The three siblings had a few characteristics to call their own, but their points of view sounded and felt the same, preventing them from every being more than the tech-obsessed younger brother, the athletic artist sister and the reckless hero older brother. There weren’t any emotional moments to build on, though there are a few places where Rosenblum attempts to strike an emotional cord and shoots a little wide.

Revolution 19 is probably more towards the MG level of books, lacking depth of character but full of action. The fast-moving plot kept me entertained, but the lack of three dimensional characters will prevent me from wanting to return to this book again and again. I think this series has the potential to become so much more if Rosenblum takes the time to develop his characters and give them distinct voices, so they don’t all blend together.

If you like robots, this might work for you, but go in expecting your standard security bots with their usual arsenal of lasers and shock rays.

 

Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of Revolution 19 in return for an honest review. I always love getting books about robots in the mail!