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BOOK REVIEW: A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

| 9 May 2015 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

May 2015
Paperback, $32.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell




It was half past seven in the morning when the robot entered our lives.

Ben and Amy never wanted kids. They’d discussed the upsides of not having them, such as never having to stress over Halloween costumes, and decided that was a very good reason for not starting a family. They had discussed getting a robot, but this wasn’t what they had in mind.

My new backpack arrived the next day, smelling of warehouse and containing an excessive amount of little packets of silica gel. As fast as I bundled things into the bag, Tang pulled them out again, each item of curious interest to him for about ten seconds, then discarded.

Amy was the one who always wanted an android to help around the house, and Ben was the uncertain one, which is why it surprises them both that Amy wants this one taken to the tip, and Ben’s considering traveling half way around the world in order to fix it.

Tang noticed me chuckling and began to kick his legs up and down with happiness. But as the tune continued to ring out, my mood began to dip. Tang had such a lot of personality, and it was growing all the time. Yet he was not ‘born to be wild’, He was… ‘made to be servile’. And with the thought of his leaking cylinder that meant his time would be up sooner or later, it all made me sad.

Now Amy has left Ben, and Ben and Tang are off to America in an attempt to find out where Tang was created, to find someone to fix him.


This is a very hard book to summarise and rate. 

It was a quick, engrossing read, with some really cute and funny moments. Tang was adorable and quick to win hearts, but there was a limited range of emotions, with some highs and some lows, but with neither of them being particularly drastically so.

This was one of those books that at once read a little like a book for all ages, a fable, but at the same time mentioned some more grown-up topics that wouldn’t be suitable for younger readers. It’s classified as adult fiction, but sits in a weird middle ground between middle-grade fiction and adult fiction, without really finding its home in the young adult category.

It was an incredibly enjoyable book, read within the space of a couple of days, and I look forward to seeing what Install offers up next. It explored friendship, responsibility, dealing with loss, and human relationships, but it would have been great if it had more feeling to it.

This would be the perfect book to read on a holiday, with a few laugh out loud moments and not many negatives. A great read for someone who is interested in seeing how certain catalysts force people to grow and change, rather than someone looking for sci-fi. 



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