Kas is a junior researcher on a fact-finding mission to old Earth. But when a con-artist tricks her into wagering a large sum of money belonging to her university on the outcome of a manned robot arena battle she becomes drawn into the seedy underworld of old Earth politics and state-sponsored battle-droid prizefights.
Is it time to get back to the books, yet?
Hard Reboot is a lot of fun, and I think it is really well-rounded for a novella. I was impressed at how author Django Wexler was able to incorporate so many different aspects of a story into only 150 pages.
This book really surprised me. Honestly, I envisioned a story that wall-to-wall robot fights, each with different strengths and powers. What I got was a nice futuristic story of friendship and love plus robot fights. I say “plus robot fights” purposefully, because that ended up being more of a backdrop than anything. The robot fighting is the basis for the main storyline, but there just is not that much of it. The narrative is really about two women, Kas and Zhi, each lost in their own way, and, surprisingly to each of them, finding themselves a little bit in the other. Kas, an off-world researcher, tentative and unsure of her place; and Zhi, an Earther living on the edges of society, making her own rules as she goes – are quite the odd couple. No one would match these two together, especially not themselves; yet, Wexler managed to take the hard lines of this world and bend them enough to help these characters discover a corner of it where they can find themselves. And it turns out they have more in common than one might think.
While it is a good story, I did still find myself pining for more robot battles. At only 150 pages, there is room for it. Do not get me wrong, the robots do fight, and it is really exciting when they do. They just do not go head-to-head as much as I wanted. But, even though there was not enough robot-on-robot smashing for my tastes (to be clear, there is some – and it is really cool!), there is still plenty of action and suspense as Kas and Zhi navigate the perils of their current situation.
Despite the fact that it was not constant robot wars, this book is really good. Hard Reboot is thrilling, futuristic sci-fi, action-packed and full of suspense – with a little romance to add a little spice to the mix and round things out. I have not often seen so much balance in novella, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend Hard Reboot for fans of futuristic sci-fi.