It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . .
It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh “nannybot” fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he’d arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he’ll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny.
As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. His owners, Ezra’s parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt.
But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom . . . or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.
A world in the near future turns to chaos where robots turn evil and take over the world (Terminator anyone?), you’re left alone to take care of an eight-year-old kid as his parents were both executed by a robot-nanny-turned-evil. But wait, there’s one more thing, you are a robot too. That is the premise of Day One by Robert C. Cargill. A dystopian story of survival and the relationship between an eight-year-old kid and his best friend who turns out to be a cyber-plush-tiger.
It was a delightful story, well plotted and just enough twists and turns to maintain interest, but somehow it seemed like the story and characters were demanding a bit more spice. Maybe it was the short format which worked against devoting more time to some characters or developing the tension further. But the narrative always appeared like it could’ve been improved by expanding some events further instead of resolving them promptly and move on; like the characters were going through the motions.
And it also affected the characters’ depth and their relationships. We had an excellent overview of who Pounce was (the major character) and his motivations, but every other character in the story were bland or just there to serve Pounce’s progression. Again, the short format of the book seems to have contributed to that. I would’ve loved to spend more time with Ariadne and drive her even more against our two protagonists.
Robert’s prose is definitely accessible for all ages, and might be a splendid book for your middle grade audience, especially considering they might not be as demanding as more mature readers, on the elements mentioned before. His writing style makes the reading flow and has great beats to show specific elements of the story, where we need to take a breather. The action in the book definitely gained from his prose, and was exciting and a contributing factor in keeping my interest going.
In conclusion, Day Zero by Robert C. Cargill is a great dystopian sci-fi novel I would recommend for readers who are looking for a quick read or a robot-driven story accessible to all ages.