Thursday, April 17, 2014

Expiration Date

Tania Deeley has always thought she was one of the only human children at her school. The vast majority of the students are human'like androids called teknoids created by Oxted Corporation to appease a world largely unable to produce children. Tania begins to suspect her friend of being teknoids until she has an accident in London where her foot is ripped off, revealing not blood and bone, but metal. Her entire world is thrown into chaos as she is mercilessly teased for her teknoid status and tries to come to terms with it. She also knows she can only exist until she's eighteen and then she must return to Oxted for recycling. Determined to make the rest of her life count, she throws herself into creating poetry and music. Can she avoid the mandatory recycling?

Expiration Day shows a world on the verge of extinction. People just can't have children and no one knows why. All of their resources go towards figuring out and fixing this problem. Women who are fertile are the most protected class with the least freedom. They are impregnated over and over with no choice as to who does it and all their children are given away. To appease infertile parents, they adopt teknoids for eighteen years and then give them back. However, losing an android child has huge repercussions for the parents including suicide, divorce, and murder. Needless to say it's not a great fix, but does succeed in the family have an eighteen year normal existence pretending their child is human. The book is told in diary form from age 11 to age 18. It takes place in futuristic England and the government has become oppressive, banning the search of basic information and films featuring androids, like Blade Runner and Pinnochio. I wish more of this was explored.

I had a lot of problems with the novel. It's the most selfish thing to raise a child and tell them they're human only to basically throw them away to die at 18 so the adults can play at being a parent. The concept frankly disgusts me because these androids are people and are being treated as dolls to be thrown away. Even though the majority of children are teknoids, it was a huge taboo to mention it. When it came out about Tania, she was subject to bullying even though the bullies were also teknoids. I just found it completely illogical to be punished for acknowledging the truth. The narrative also had a few plot holes and kept didn't really change over the course of 7 years. The writing is uneven and is fully realized and nuanced in one place and one dimensional in others.

Expiration Day was an ok read. The concept was interesting, but had a lot of problems in practice. I liked the twist ending and enjoyed most of the book, but some parts infuriated me to no end.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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