To save humanity, they must give up their own.
Adam’s muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam’s only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero.
Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam’s game. Created by Adam’s computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam’s life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam’s dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.
Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat…before Sigma destroys humanity. – Goodreads Review)
The Six Review
Mark Alpert writes very well, but what I want to comment on first is not the story itself, but something written in the author’s notes at the end of the book. He talks about that while researching muscular dystrophy for this book, he realized that everyone reacts to/handles their illness differently, and you can’t just easily categorize people. I give him major points for recognizing that. Writers tend to portray those suffering from disability and/or terminal illness as either self-pitying and weak or super-strong nothing-gets-me-down survivors. They’re also either used as props to build a main character’s personality (how many times have you read about the character that shines because he or she takes care of their sick brother/sister/mother/father, etc?) or they are disabled and/or ill, but have some saavant-like abilities that somehow ‘make up’ for it.
Alpert gives us middle-ground representation of people suffering from illnesses such as cancer or disabled by diseases such as muscular dystrophy. Yes, each of these teens have the fighter spirit – else they’d not been chosen – but each of them react to and handle their illnesses/disabilities in different ways. One defines himself by it, one doesn’t. One had accepted what was coming, one raged against it. One is sneaky, one is violent, all are normal teens in every way except for the fact that they’ve been dealt a crappy hand in life when it comes to their bodies.
Now, the beginning of this book may be hard to handle for some people. Having had two kids with terminal illnesses, I can truthfully tell you the first quarter of this book was a hard read. Simply because I read to escape, and having some of the realities of these illnesses brought forth on the page was uncomfortable. There’s two scenes when the Six are going through the transfer process that those who have lost a child to terminal illnesses may want to skip. (Obviously the two characters survived, else the book would be called The Four, but they are still hard to read.) After the transfer scenes, though, it gets much easier to read, and I lost myself in the story.
I loved the fact that, also, this book falls into the ‘hard sci-fi’ range. The author researched and used technologies currently in development as the jumping off point for the technology used in The Six. Also, while the technology is completely believable, Alpert manages to avoid the pitfalls of many a hard science fiction piece by not drowning you in pages upon pages of scientific description. This story is very much oriented around the plot and the characters. The fact that it also happens to be hard sci-fi is just a very pleasant plus.
The only reason this book isn’t getting a full five star rating is because there’s something it’s lacking. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but just like with many of Keith Donohue’s works, I can say that its a good work, but I can’t say its a great one. Alpert is talented, but I don’t feel like this was as good as he’s capable of. It didn’t induce an urge to rave to people about how they had to read it right now. It is, however, definitely a solid story and I would recommend people read it. Just… mind your heart if its still sore after a loss. May want to give it a bit of time first.
Book Details for The Six Review