Friday 10 April 2020

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th April 2020: "Troofriend" by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow)

Oh wow, this week's Chapter Book of the Week is the sort of book that saw both of us fighting over the copy we recieved for review - so it was fortunate that Nosy Crow sent us two proofs - and we both dived in separately for our review.

For C, "TrooFriend" by Kirsty Applebaum was exactly the sort of book she loves best, a story that is set in a strange future that shows a book world that's still recognisable, relatable and identifiable as being an extension of the world we live in today - but with subtle twists, turns and nuances to mark it out as futuristic.

"Troofriend" is actually a new range of android friends designed to be your new robotic bestie. Tailored to each individual 'owner', we're soon introduced to one particular TrooFriend 560 - named "Ivy" thanks to her demarcation (IV in roman numerals) - and her new 'owner' Sarah, a little girl who has longed for a sister - and now has one at long last.

The TrooFriend 560 is designed to be the perfect companion. They never lie, never cheat, never steal, and can never hurt humans. Almost perfect, as it soon emerges that IV doesn't quite live up to that expectation, and comes with her own tics and quirks, something that the Troofriend Company claims could never happen.

But is IV alive? And what happens when people begin to treat "Troofriends" like any other piece of disposable technology, when it's clear that they're far more than that. Sarah makes a huge decision - to run away with IV, far away from anyone who would dare to try and take IV away from her.

We both loved this book - and though I could recognise a lot of influences from other stories where synth-human / android / AI elements are prevalent, it's a very human story at its heart and I admired the fact that Kirsty gave this story such a huge amount of appeal to boys and girls the same age as my daughter.

C said "As I read, I could understand what made Sarah want to run away with IV. As an only child I would love my own "Troofriend" as I understand how lonely Sarah must have been, and how she loved IV even despite her being 'imperfect' to everyone else."

C read through this twice, and in fact as I type this review she's diving back in for a third read. Like me she tends to blast through books on her first reading, but then will go back in for more readthroughs if a book really gets its hooks into her. "Troofriend" clearly worked its magic on her and very much deserves Book of the Week status.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fantastic slice of dark-mirror-esque near-future sci fi in a world where synthetic companions are the new mobile phone, with a strong ethical thread burning through a totally gripping and sometimes quite dark storyline.

"TrooFriend" by Kirsty Applebaum is out now, published by Nosy Crow (kindly supplied for review).