Expiration Day, by William Campbell Powell (April 2014)

This YA science fiction novel arrived at our bookstore and had a mildly interesting blurb on the back, so I decided to read it. A mere 40 pages into the book revealed that the blurb was completely wrong, and that it is, in fact, far more interesting. "Expiration Day" takes place in a future much like the one in "Children of Men." The human birth rate has fallen precipitously, though not stopped altogether, leading to a series of world wars and a population somewhere around only 250 million. The best way to stem the violence appeared to be the creation of robotic children, exceptionally complex beings that would look, feel, think, and behave like real children. The only problem is that they cannot grow naturally, and so must be periodically upgraded. The teknoids, as they are called, are loved and accepted into society, but only up to a point. It is still considered extremely gauche to acknowledge the existence of the robots, and even more so to admit you are one. And there is one other glaring difference: all teknoids must be returned to the company that makes them by their 18th birthday.

This is exactly what has happened to Tania Deeley. She has always been told she is one of the few precious humans, but we (and she) soon find out this is not the case. The story of her struggle with her own and others' humanity is told in diary entries, and it's pretty fantastic. The book is a bit long, perhaps, and while I understand why Powell focuses so much on Shakespeare, even I got weary of reading verses and tended to skip over those parts. But otherwise the writing is great and the story is incredibly interesting. The very end is a bit confusing, and I'm rather disappointed this isn't going to be a series (or at least, it seems that way). Following Tania's work and life would be fascinating, and I'd certainly love to read more of Powell's work. This is definitely a book I'll be selling in our store.


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