'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Monday, 26 August 2013

REVIEW: vN - Madeline Ashby

vN - Madeline Ashby
vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1)
Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.
This book is like nothing I have ever read before. It was a book recommended to me by my dissertation supervisor and I am really glad that I have read it! vN displays the story of Amy Peterson, a von Neumann machine, and her journey following her eating of her grandmother. Yep, you read that right, she ate her grandmother. This made for such an interesting and captivating read and I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth into iD.

I feel like this book would be a brilliant book to study. It was fascinating how Amy's parents stunted her growth through not feeding her enough in order to ensure that she had a 'normal' upbringing. With Amy being a robot, this seemed to be something rather bizarre. We discover later various experiences of her mother at the hands of her grandmother which allow us to begin to understand the decision made by her parents at the beginning. These decisions appeared to have led to the eating of her grandmother... it puts a bit of a downer on things!

I loved reading the journey of Amy and Javier (another vN) as they run from the authorities. vN's are not meant to have feelings, something which is completely unusual. We discover that Amy is part of a faulty batch of vN's created: their fail-safes do not work and they have the ability to feel as a 'normal human'. This makes for a fascinating development within the friendship of Amy and Javier. He is a vN that cannot feel and it made me wonder if we would see a change in that by the end of the novel. I loved the questions that this novel raised: what qualifies being human?

Something mentioned to me by my supervisor is that vN has a very Red Riding Hood-esque feel to it based on the consumption of her grandmother. I found this incredibly fascinating and can't wait to re-read it to take this in more. I loved the idea of the angry inner voice inside, and I felt like Amy's grandmother symbolised the feelings that Amy would like to repress. That the scenes of violence are Amy but it is through her denial that she blames it on her consumed grandmother. I dunno if this is me going on a lit tangent but that's a sign of a wonderful book to me!

A book filled with plenty of action and tension, I devoured it and am definitely looking forward to reading the next one in the series :).


  1. I found this one rather disappointing because the idea is pretty decent. I thought it rather weird, especially with the starving and the 'birthing' and not to mention the pedophilia! What even...
    I did however enjoy Amy's inner battle between the inner voice of her grandmother and herself. That was probably the best part.
    Still, for me it was a weak read, but I'm glad you enjoyed it and managed to study it on deeper levels.

  2. Ohh, you're the second trusted blogger to read and enjoy this so it's making me insanely curious...but: SHE EATS her grandmother?! Oh man, I don't know how I'd actually handle a story like that. O.O I do love how it can be compared to Red Ridding Hood so I might have to give this one a go!
    Great review^^


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