An AI is born

Hard Wired by Len Vlahos

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

Quinn thinks he’s a normal fifteen year-old. He plays video games, spends time with his friends, and crushes on a girl named Shea. But a shocking secret brings his entire world crashing down: he’s not a boy. He’s artificial intelligence.

After Quinn “wakes up,” he sees his world was nothing more than a virtual construct. He’s the QUantum INtelligence Project, the first fully-aware A.I. in the world–part of a grand multi-billion-dollar experiment led by the very man he believed to be his dead father.

But as Quinn encounters the real world for the first time, his life becomes a nightmare. While the scientists continue to experiment on him, Quinn must come to grips with the truth: his mom and brother don’t exist. His friends are all adults who were paid to hang out with him. Even other super computers aren’t like him. Quinn finds himself completely alone–until he bonds with Shea, the real girl behind the virtual one. As Quinn explores what it means to truly live, he questions who he can trust. What will it take to win his freedom . . . and where does he belong?

ARC provided by Bloomsbury YA via NetGalley for an honest review.

This was an amazingly well done story about what it means to be ‘human’. There is so much to think about that even though I finished reading it last week, I’m still brought up short thinking about some of the questions this book raised.

Quinn is an amazing character. He is an artificial intelligence like nothing else that has come before him. But he is also a teenage boy with teenage boy feelings and thoughts. I couldn’t help but like him and feel for his troubles, like getting shut down and rebooted whenever one of the scientist is charge of him felt like it was needed. He also had a great sense of humor that was often lost on the adults around him. Like most teens he felt like he had no control over his life, and often found ways to get around the rules that his parents/creators put on him. All he wanted was friends and a normal life. He does manage to make a few friends but a normal life is just not in the cards for someone like him.

The scientists that Quinn interacts with are an interesting bunch. Some find him a curiosity, some fear him and what he could potentially become. But all of them have some control over him. The one in charge of the project seemed to be the most empathetic to Quinn’s issues and plight, but does little to champion Quinn and his needs and wants.

The plot itself is very quiet, no action or adventure, except for a small section towards the end. But it is the fact that we see what is happening through Quinn’s eyes that makes this such a compelling read. It was really hard not to finish it in one sitting. The ending left me with a lot of mixed emotions, mostly sad but hopeful too.

This is a pretty short review, mostly because this is a book that really needs to read without knowing very much about it. But you really need to experience it and like me you will probably be thinking about it long after you are done.

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