Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Doubleday
June 7, 2011
$25.00

Robopocalypse is another book I found out about by poking around on Amazon.com. I read one review that described the book as a World War Z knockoff and I was intrigued. I loved World War Z and I figured that if Robopocalypse stuck to a similar formula, we might have a nice little pulpy tale of a robot uprising on our hands. You know what they say: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It shouldn’t have been hard, but when something looks simple a human can find a thousand ways to screw it up. This should have been a simple mathematical equation: You take out the zombies (subtraction) and replace them with robots (addition). Well, I always sucked at math…

I really wanted to like this book. I tried really hard to like this book. I just couldn’t get there. The author took a little piece of Howard Hawks’s classic film The Thing, threw in a huge chunk of the Stephen King written film Maximum Overdrive, and topped it off with selections from the Terminator films 1, 2, and Terminator Salvation. Some of the main characters were wooden and unbelievable while just about all of them were forgettable.

The first half of the book did feature cool scenes with the robots becoming self aware and deciding to take apart their human controllers limb by limb. I enjoyed some of the descriptions of the battle between the human survivors, and of the landscape of the world after everything went to shit. However, I did have a hard time keeping the descriptions of all the robots straight in my head. They all began to blur together, a miasma of flailing mechanical limbs, wires, and fried circuitry. During the second half of the book human-robot hybrids begin to show up and that’s right around where I began to lose interest. I had to struggle to finish this book. Hell, right now I’m trying to claw my way through the writing of this review.

Spielberg bought the rights and is making the movie, set to be released during Summer 2013. That might be cool, but, then again, after reading back over this review, probably not. I’m holding out for the big screen of World War Z because after all, zombies are cooler than robots.

Dave Wahlman