In a post-techno-nuclear apocalyptic world, seventeen-year-old Eve Carpenter, along with Cricket (her android assistant), Kaiser (her cyborg blitzhund), and Lemon (her fully-human friend) spends her time reconstructing robot fighters to compete in the War Dome for prize money. Adept at repairing, reassembling and manipulating her fighters in battle, her successes are not unimpressive, and her confidence is strong until she comes up against the Goliath. Her imminent destruction seems sure until something unusual happens that convinces her (and the crowd in the Dome) that she has a mindpower that, when unleashed, is catastrophic and lethal. Observers in the crowd, including the red-cassocked Brotherhood militia and a mysterious bounty hunter called The Preacher, take note of this and set about trying to trap or destroy her. The Brotherhood considers her a genetic deviant that must be destroyed; The Preacher knows she is a valuable resource to some powerful people.
Eve and friends flee, heading back to her Grandpa’s home and workshop, gathering salvage parts along the way to rebuild another robot competitor. They stumble across an android boy (Ezekiel) that Eve manages to repair, they battle thugs that want to seize him because he is so valuable, and they relocate to Armada when Grandpa Silas’s house turns into an airship that lifts them away from Dregs. Lots going on here (think Real Steel, Mad Max, Bladerunner, etc.).
Throughout all this, Eve has recurring flashback memories that confuse her but seem real—memories in which she has a different name, a different family, a different history. As her awareness expands—with Ezekiel’s help—she recovers her identify as the daughter of Nicholas Monrova, artificial intelligence wizard and founder of Gnosis Laboratories, and she learns the facts of the AI rebellion that murdered her family and turned the world upside down. How she handles this knowledge drives the story to a surprising and satisfying conclusion and clearly paves the way to a sequel.
The writing is fast-paced, interesting, perhaps a little too sketchy and unclear on the details during some of the action sequences, but it holds your attention. I don’t even like this kind of book but I confess it pulled me in. There is, of course, LOTS of violence. Offensive language generally consists of words like hell, damn, goddammit (but no f*** that I noticed), and there are some crude sexual comments used as insults. Eve and Ezekiel manage to have sex a couple of times (they are in love) but nothing is explicit.
The real value of the book (besides great entertainment) is its gender-neutral treatment of the characters and its thoughtful examination of the idea that individual choice and self-determination (as opposed to coercion) is vital to the existence of a thriving and happy society.
Buy this one for your library.