DRC: Autonomous by Andy Marino

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3 stars 

Autonomous the most advanced driverless car in the world. It knows what you want to do and where you want to go before you yourself know. It links up data about you from your online presence and scrupulous monitoring to predict your desires.

And William Mackler, teenage boy and “adrenaline junkie,” has won the competition to own Autonomous and take himself and three friends on the road trip of a lifetime to see their favorite band before they separate after graduation.

But Autonomous isn’t everything it seems and its overwhelming knowledge might just be the downfall of William and his friends.

Here’s the official summary:

William Mackler is about to go on a road trip of a lifetime. After winning a contest—and nearly dying in the process—he becomes the proud owner of Autonomous, a driverless car that knows where you want to go before you do. #Worthit! To sweeten the deal he gets to pick three friends to go with him on a cross-country trip to see their favorite band. For William, a reckless adrenaline junkie, this is the perfect last hurrah before he and his friends go their separate ways after graduation. But Autonomous is more than just a car without a steering wheel. It’s capable of downloading all of the passengers’ digital history—from the good, to the bad, to the humiliating. The information is customized into an itinerary that will expose a few well-kept secrets, but it will also force William to face some inner demons of his own. Think you know Autonomous? The real question is, how much does Autonomous know about you?

To some people, 3 stars might be a little generous. Although I didn’t really like the book as much as expected, I still think the message Marino wanted us to learn from this novel was portrayed.

The teens in this book do a lot of dumb things. They drink underage. Some do drugs. Some meddle with questionable characters. Some make bad life choices in general (but who am I to judge?).

I didn’t really like any of their characters. They were all important to the novel and have a certain level of complexities, but it doesn’t mean that I liked them. They were generally annoying and fought over the pettiest things.

William is the main main character who doesn’t have very much character besides the fact that the summary says he’s an “adrenaline junkie” which I interpreted as “dunce with no regards for his personal health.” There’s not very much substance to him and I didn’t connect well with him.

Christina, however, was the one character I connected really well with. She’s an introvert and she feels isolated from her peers as William is her best friend and next-door neighbor, and he’s the limit of her companions. She’s also a germaphobe and great with technology (although she dives into the Dark Web). I could see the complexities in her character with her feeling of being the fourth wheel and how she’s a tad paranoid (and justifiably so) about Autonomous.

Melissa is pretty, preppy, and popular. She’s trying to build her social media presence through YouTube videos and Twitter as she designs & makes clothing. I found her character interesting as she’s very ambitious to a fault and it adds another layer to the traditional “Queen Bee.” I found this somewhat relatable, though not as much as Christina. She see Autonomous as a chance for her to boost her following with #AutonomousRoadTrip

Daniel is the final main character & our resident drug addict. There’s not much to him except the aforementioned hidden drug abuse aspect & his desire to please Melissa. I couldn’t relate to him very well, either.

I found that I connected to the female characters much better than the male; whether this may be because I am a female or because the males were just written as dumb jocks, I don’t know. But the characters had their faults, which is better than them being perfect role models.

The plot was somewhat engaging. I found that a few scenes seemed unnecessary to the central idea of the novel, but it followed the winning of Autonomous to the road trip, while unveiling secrets along the way.

I could predict many of the plot twists and where the plot would go in general which took away some of the entertainment value, but it wasn’t dull or dragging as they make a lot of bad decisions that would be very Twitter-worthy (everyone loves watching videos of people doing dumb things) but I didn’t care very much for the plot or the characters.

The emotional attachment to this novel was slim to none as I found them and their decisions irritating.

I think it would have been much more enjoyable to read if there was more drama with Autonomous, aka Otto, the driverless car. The premise of the novel was in this omniscient driverless car, but it wasn’t featured as much as I would have wanted to see.

I found the prose unexceptional, but the premise was very interesting. Driverless cars are becoming more and more popular & talked about in the news.

Although I found this novel lacking in execution and other areas, it doesn’t mean it won’t be a book you’ll enjoy. The fact that I didn’t DNF this novel should prove that it is an interesting read–just not a very meaningful one.

We read all sorts of questionable literature–from Twilight to The Selection. Just because the execution is mediocre will not stop people from enjoying the story.

I would not recommend this to anyone looking for a meaningful read, but if you’re a fan of drama and a little suspense, Autonomous might be the book for you.

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Thank you to Disney Hyperion & Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy of Autonomous!

Are you looking forward to reading this? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

(Also: I’m not entirely sure about this because I though the pub date was Nov 14th, but I think it’s now moved to April 2018, possibly because of the negative response. If any of you know what’s up, I’d be grateful to know!)

2 thoughts on “DRC: Autonomous by Andy Marino

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