An unusual premise with a lot of future promise

EXOTIQA (YA Robot Cyberpunk Dystopia) (EXOTIQA WORLD Book 1) Kindle Edition
by M Black 
I love most Dystopian themed novels and it looks like we are going to be seeing more and more of them over the next few years as we try to adjust to our new reality.
However, occassionally one stands out, for its uniqueness. Exoitiqa stands out for the brave way Ms. Black takes on both the Asmovian Laws of Robotics and Dick’s questions of what humanity and consciousness actually mean when compared to AI.
Ms. Black, first replaces the standard Three Laws of Robotics with her six. The question is, did it make a difference. In the final analysis, no. Her laws and the change from the three that have stood for nearly a century really makes no difference, not even to the story. Unlike, say in RoboCop, where the rule change is central to the story, this could easily have been chopped. Like a lot of Exotiqa, changing Asimov’s laws was an unnecessary sidetrip.
We are presented with two heroines. Maci, a FlexBot who is evolving into a human consciousness, and Fione, seeimingly one of the only humans around who sees the swift (far too swift) take over by technology. This, I assume, is to set up a duality, but it meanders. Their shifting POV does move the story along, but often we experience similar things. A good hard Beta read would have cleaned this up.
We also experience, as the reader some continuity or other jarring issues.
For instance: At one point, Fione “bites a single nail on her finger.” How many people have more than a single nail on their finger? Other whiplash jarring moments include Fione ruminating on when ‘after we began kissing’ how she wondered how Pixel kissed, after he was kissing her.
Dystopia requires setting the world up, so that the reading can compare and contrast with the world they live in now. Black dumps the world on us, as if to say we are living in Dystopia because of the tech we currently have around us? I’m not sure, but I would have appreciated a little less woodsy adventure and more real world experience. For instance, the leader of Canada, inexplicably, is making world-wide laws. Clearly taking place in Canada, not even through the ever present HV (HoloVision instead of Television) do we see the rest of the world. It is as if the world stops at the Canada Border, particulaly in the Puget Sound, at the same time it doesn’t. Again, a hard Beta read was needed.
The adults in this world are powerful while being inept. Fione’s Mother discovers that the cost of a Rover have been embezzeled from her account, but it trickles through the conversation with a figurative “tutt-tutt”.
Normally, you would either have breadcrumbs leading to the villain, or a red herring or two. Instead he is waved out there just before he is plopped in out laps. And, must to a seasoned reader’s annoyance we get a villain’s monologue.
But there is a lot of promise in the storyline and the world, if Ms. Black can remember to not throw things like the numbers/colors game in, take up three or four pages with it, and then never use it.
I would have liked to have seen more of Pixel. He was the most interesting of characters, and he was just presented as is. His story arc should have been explored, instead of Fione’s.
A binary 4 out of 5


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