Ben Magid’s sci-fi (and, as I’d categorise it, YA) novel is a page turner, for sure. The first of a series, it follows a strong female lead in a world populated by robots aka “Mech”. Highly enjoyable, I will definitely continue to read the series, even if there were a few cringe language choices.
The Synopsis in a Nutshell
Rebel Rae is the last human being on Earth. Having been left behind by her parents (and the rest of humanity) at the age of 12, she’s had to learn how to survive alone and later on, to live amongst (and hide from) the Mech.
Now 19 she is working on a way to bring down the “mainframe” so she can send a message to the moon, where the remaining humans are.
Then Thomas, a Mech, comes into her life. She repairs him with a special “heart” that gives him emotions, feelings and other human qualities. They become friends and she realises that the Mech could be different, near to human even.
However, Francis, a Mech, is on her tail and she still needs to send a message to the moon. Will she do it before she’s discovered as human? Will humans return to Earth? And how will her relationship with Thomas develop, or end?
As you know, I hate the phrase “page turner”, but No Man’s Land is just that, it keeps you reading. Magid switches between Rebel’s current situation and her past life surviving living alone as a teenager, which changes up the pace in an amazing way. I personally love flashbacks/forwards/time hops.
Rebel is a great main character, she is head strong and independent and a real science buff. I wish I’d seen a bit more of how she got her job (which she does by dressing up as a Mech) and we don’t get to see the first time she pretends to be one at her work, or with them in a large setting.
I’m not a massive Thomas fan, he kind of irritated me a bit, but not to the point where it affected me wanting to read it. This may be me being picky, but I would have liked a little more info on how he functioned, scientifically.
I spoke above about the cringe language, and here’s my issue, which I’m SURE is a personal thing, I didn’t like the names the Mechs used. They took famous human names. Thomas is Thomas Jefferson, Francis is Francis Bacon and Rebel uses the name Anne Frank. With the Mech not being human, I feel like they wouldn’t have wanted to use human names and it would have been a nice thing for Rebel to maybe “name” Thomas, when he became different. I also didn’t like Magid’s use of the word “mainframe”, it seemed a bit sci-fi 101.
I actually loved how badly humans come off in this, because at the end of the day, some of us are total jerks and I like that Magid didn’t make the humans saviours.
Overall, a great start to a series (I’m assuming a trilogy?) and the second in trilogies tend to be my favourites, so I’m keeping an eye out for it!
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.