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Eager

Review

Eager

Gavin and Fleur Bell live in a house that wakes them, watches them, protects them, and feeds them. It's the end of the 21st century in England, and EAGER is full of fascinating details of life in the future: clothes and rooms that change color, wristwatch telephone/computers called "jinns," houses that rearrange themselves, and much more. Yet people remain similar to today, with the same emotional makeup.

The Bell family's robot butler, Grumps, is no longer working properly. He's an older model and is wearing out, serving the family tomato soup for breakfast and otherwise acting oddly. Unfortunately, he's not repairable. Grumps tells us in a poignant scene what it's like to have the house tell him that his family wants to replace him. Fleur and Gavin wonder what kind of new robot they'll get: will he be a tall Greek goddess-like BDC4? Or a soft speaking "monk" model?

Mr. Bell works for the most important agency in the world --- LifeCorp, a company providing transport, food, water, learning centers, and other necessary functions. Technology eases the lives of the people. Robots do most menial work. However, technology also threatens people since robot workers cause many human workers to be unemployed.

Professor Ogden, a friend of Mr. Bell's, gives the Bells a robot named EGR3. "Eager" is the professor's latest invention, and he'd like it to be in a family setting. Eager will actually be Grumps's assistant. The two robots are completely different. Eager thinks for himself, is curious, feels emotions, and is intellectual. The Bells' new robot realizes humans "kill" robots they no longer need; he becomes obsessed with death.

In the meantime, Gavin learns of an underground movement against the all-controlling LifeCorp, while Fleur's best friend replaces her with a robot pal. Gavin, Fleur, and Eager notice advanced robots called BDC4s holding secret meetings and otherwise acting strangely. Of course, they must investigate.

This is a stunningly good novel with a quick plot. The characters --- human and techno --- are believable and sympathetic, raising intriguing questions about robots and morality. A thread of ominously building suspense makes the book hard to put down. If we're lucky, there will be a sequel to EAGER. Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on June 8, 2004

Eager
by Helen Fox

  • Publication Date: June 8, 2004
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
  • ISBN-10: 0385746725
  • ISBN-13: 9780385746724