A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install ~ Review

A Robot in the Garden
Deborah Install

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: May 10, 2016

Ben's really great at failing at things-his job, taking the garbage out, and being a husband. But when he discovers a battered robot named Tang in his garden, he decides to get out of his couch-ridden comfort zone. Without a crucial bit of machinery, Tang will stop working, and Ben can't let that happen, especially since he's already alienated everyone else he cares about. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben sets out to fix his new robot comrade and soon discovers that Tang might be just the thing to fix what's broken in Ben. Funny, touching, and charming, A Robot in the Garden explores what it is to be a man, a sentient being, and a friend.

Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars ~ Excellent

Once in a while, I just want a little something different that has heart, but is also light.  I found that with this tale of a man who has lost his way and decides that helping a little quirky robot find his home is the way to find his way back.

After the death of his parents in a plane crash and a lifetime of never pleasing them, Ben Chambers has now also failed at his marriage when a battle over the less than pristine older robot that wanders into their garden is the last straw with his wife.  Ben thinks the little guy is something special and Amy just wants him to toss it into the trash since the robot isn't sleek or as practical as the newer housekeeping androids.

Tired of being considered a failure, Ben takes the clues found on 'Tang' and he and his new little companion set off to find were Tang came from so the robot can repaired and restored to his home.  Tang is unlike any Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech that Ben has ever seen.  It's like someone didn't care about appearance and threw the robot together yet also managed to make Tang sentient.  Tang is unique, but it seems that only Ben can appreciate him.

Their journey is not uneventful and is fraught with humorous misunderstandings, frustrating situations, introspection, new encounters, and along the way Ben and Tang form a friendship that leaves Ben ambivalent as they draw closer to the answer to Tang's mysteries.  In helping Tang find home, Ben is discovering himself and what he truly wants.

I love 'road trip' style stories and this one is no exception.  Ben is an ordinary guy who just wants to do something right for a change.  Tang is mysterious and unknown at first and slowly his personality shows forth.  There are a handful of encounters on the journey that bring interesting happenings, but also lessons for Ben along the way.  I liked that the journey ended where it started and being back in his home environment showed all the changes and growth in Ben.

The author's writing, descriptions, infusion of humor and introspection were done well.  Ben is the sole narrator and he was such a great protagonist that I was happy to be along for his adventure.  Tang was sheer delight.  The author blended a personality with a robotic brain.

The setting could be considered sci-fi or just our world as more hi-tech with the inclusion of androids and robots and more automation as part of the contemporary world.  It's understood as normal and not a great deal of scientific explanation is put there to bog down the story (sorry, if that is your thing).  The focus was definitely on the characters.

So, in summary, this was an engaging heartwarming journey of the heart as a man came into his own with the help of a quirky, little friend.  I would recommend this to contemporary fiction or light sci-fi fans.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sophia Rose regularly blogs and reviews at Delighted Reader

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