Girl Parts

Girl Parts

3.4 19
by John M. Cusick

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What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? A compulsively readable novel from a new talent.

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents

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What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? A compulsively readable novel from a new talent.

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uberconnected world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a very near future America where 750 viewers watch a teenager commit suicide online and do nothing, are humans more human than an android who looks and acts the part? With an almost anthropological eye, first-time novelist Cusick digs into the connections people make--physically, emotionally, and technologically. After David Sun’s parents learn that he witnessed the local girl’s death and didn’t intervene, they grow concerned that he has become “disassociated” from life, due to an overreliance on technology. The solution? More technology, of course, in the form of Rose, a Companion bot, which “dissuades dehumanizing behaviors and encourages healthy human interaction.” Rose is a redheaded bombshell, and while there are the requisite moments of misunderstood slang and other faux pas, she’s no more lost than the teenagers she meets, like scruffy loner Charlie. It’s Rose’s growth, with Charlie’s help after she’s brutally rejected by David, which forms the emotional core of this bittersweet and prescient novel, and which make the teenager-as-robot metaphor work so well. “He’s the whole universe,” Rose says of David, who alone she’s programmed to connect with. “What am I supposed to do?” Ages 14-up. (Aug.)
VOYA - Tim Capehart
Sixteen-year-olds Charlie Nuvola and David Sun both attend all-boy school Saint Sebastian's in Westtown, Massachusetts, but they could not be more different. David is rich, popular, and lives in a mansion, while Charlie is on scholarship, is a loner, and lives in a cabin in the woods with his single father, a botanist. Both boys are diagnosed as "disassociative" by the crackpot new counselor at St. Seb's, who gives them both catalogs for Sakura Companions, robotic girl simulacrum with "intimacy clocks" designed to help boys form "normal" relationships. Charlie says no. David, however, gets Rose, a beautiful redhead. At first, he's in love . . . then he learns the companions aren't anatomically correct. Rose, who has gradually become more human, doesn't deal well with rejection, and Charlie saves her from herself. They become friends and dodge Sakura goons as the company comes looking for its lost "property." Charlie and Rose try to sort out their feelings and decide what to do next. What does a robot designed to love a specific boy do with herself once he's tossed her aside? Literary agent Cusick's debut is a funny, touching, near-future science fiction tale that explores teen relationships and what it means to be a "real" person. Part Pinocchio, part My Fair Lady, this is a good quick pick for fans of light science fiction. Reviewer: Tim Capehart
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
In the near future, many experts are saying too much TV, Internet, and texting is making teens disconnected from relationships with real people in real time. Sakoro Corporation has a solution, a solution that David is about to meet. After he watches a girl live-stream her suicide, David's parents (on the recommendation of his guidance counselor) have purchased him a Companion. Rose is a robot, an unbelievably attractive robot, meant to help him build emotional bonds with humans. As David struggles with keeping his robot crush a secret from his popular friends, across the lake Charlie struggles to make friends. He's an outsider whose situation is made worse since his dad has little interest in any form of technology. When these three characters finally meet, they all question what it means to be human and what it means to be alive. The novel starts with a modern concern of parents and offers a futuristic solution. The questions it raises are interesting, mainly whether or not digital relationships are the same as face to face ones. This is a risky book for a classroom, though. A main conflict is David trying to break down Rose's protocols so she will have sex with him. His behavior throughout makes him hard to like, but that may be the point. This book is for mature readers only, and boy readers at that since the protagonist is male and much of what he says and does can be construed as sexist, but those who are ready for it may find a glimmer of themselves while they read. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—With cold detachment, David views a classmate's video blog while she deliberately downs a toxic cocktail. He and his peers seem unfazed having witnessed her online suicide. The adults, shocked out of their reverie, notice that their children are "disassociated" from the real world. David's father, a techno tycoon, teams up with the school counselor to intervene. Enter Rose, an attractive robot girl designed to befriend David. She is beautiful, with silky hair and warm downy skin, and programmed to please. Electronic Rose will teach David how to love and feel again. No joke! Meanwhile, classmate Charlie is the antithesis of David. He and his botanist dad live off the grid on the outskirts of town. Charlie, a disheveled loner, rides a broken-down bike, and the school counselor labels him as depressed. He first suggests drugs and then a Companion, like David's. Rose generates much desire in her boy, but no substance. He remains a selfish, spoiled jerk addicted to surround monitors that flow constant communication among friends, all the while simulating suggestive images. When David discovers that Rose is more Barbie than girl—she is without "girl parts"—he casts her aside and breaks her "heart." Soon she takes up with Charlie and romance ensues. When the story digresses to Rose experiencing tender feelings and desiring "girl parts," the narrative stumbles. David remains artificially connected, Rose develops contrived humanistic drama, and Charlie falls for her. What began as a smart and sexy cautionary tale is ultimately disappointing.—Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

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