Review: A Robot in the Garden

Posted 4 November, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 10 Comments

A Robot in the Garden
By: Deborah Install
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

What would you do if you found a rickety robot sitting under a tree in your back garden?

For floundering 34-year-old Ben Chambers the answer is obvious: find out where it came from and take it there to be fixed, even if it means risking his marriage in the process. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben embarks on a journey that takes him and the endearing robot, Tang, to the far side of the globe…and back again. Together they will discover that friendship can rise up under the strangest circumstances, and that Artificial Intelligence can teach a man what it is to be human.

Funny, touching, charming, wise and a bit magical, A Robot in the Garden is a gem of a first novel, perfect for anyone who has ever found it difficult to connect with the world.

I think it was through GoodReads that I first heard of this book. The premise sounded whimsical, but I sort of went back and forth for a while whether or not to pick it up. In the end I picked it up as I was looking for something light to read 🙂

A Robot in the Garden was a delightful read about a man who finds a robot in his garden and finds himself setting out on a journey to repair him whilst also putting his life in order. I sympathised with Ben, he was pretty much stuck in his life when we are first introduced to his character but the robot that shows up in his life, Tang, really puts things into perspective and gives him something to focus on and aim for. I loved his growing camraderie with the robot from those early ginger days of figuring out how to act around the robot to growing to really care for him. And Tang is absolutely adorable, reading and watching him learn and adapt to his surroundings and just explore the world outside what he previously knew. Ben and Tang’s journey to find out where Tang came from puts them through some awkward and hilarious situations and all the while through Tang’s innocent perspective we ponder a bit about life and what it means to be human.

I have to say though I wasn’t completely sold on Ben and Amy’s relationship. I didn’t quite understand how they lasted as long as they did, or frankly how they got together in the first place either; they just seemed to be in two completely different places in their lives. Also, Ben wasn’t completely hopeless and yet his sister and Amy were constantly putting him down early on. It was a bit much. While Ben’s journey sort of put things in perspective (as well as what went on with Amy during that time), I still wasn’t entirely convinced that it was enough.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Overall A Robot in the Garden was a warm and charming read. It made me chuckle at times and Tang was just an adorable and smart robot. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a light read 🙂

Rating: ★★★½☆

Learn more about the author from her agent’s website || Order this book from the Book Depository

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10 Responses to “Review: A Robot in the Garden”

  1. I haven’t heard of this one but it sounds great! I confess I do like a good AI story and ones where they help the protag explore their humanity (or explore their one) can be so good if done right. Tang sounds fun. Too bad the relationship between Ben and Amy didn’t quite convince- maybe the author had trouble with that part or focused more on the Ben/ Tang dynamic. Anyway great review and thanks for sharing this!

    • Ben & Tang’s dynamic was definitely the highlight here, you make a good point that maybe the author was more focused on that. But Tang was such a delight, my favourite part of the book 🙂

  2. Interesting: if the premises (like the main character’s incompetence or his relationship with the wife) seem a little forced, I imagine that the journey with the robot is what really matters in the story.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Tang’s journey was definitely at the heart of the story, and definitely the one that sticks out in my mind when I think about the book as a whole 🙂

  3. It’s a shame about Ben and Amy’s relationship not being that convincing because apart from that I’d have been really excited about this one. It sounds like a really sweet and cute story in all other respects and that isn’t something that I’ve generally found in SF, lol! I think I’ll still probably have to give it a read then. Thanks for your great review on this book! 🙂

    • It’s definitely on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to sci-fi but it’s nice to read a change of pace in the genre from time to time 🙂 But Tang was really sweet, I just wanted to pat him on the head at times xD

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