Title: The Wild Robot | Series: The Wild Robot #1 | Author: Peter Brown | Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers | Pub. Date: 2016-4-5 | Pages: 279 | ISBN13: 9780316381994 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Animal death | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Library
The Wild Robot
When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….
The Wild Robot Review
I reviewed an audio version of The Wild Robot and then looked at a PDF of the illustrations afterwards. So I’m going to a bit nicer in this review then I really feel like being because I recognize that my experience of the book was a bit atypical.
First off, regarding the narration of The Wild Robot, I enjoyed Kate Atwater’s performance. As this is a kid’s book, I think she did a great job making the voices bright, lively, and a bit cartoonish. This is the first time I’ve ever heard her narrate, but I wouldn’t be averse to doing so in the future. In the beginning of the story, other sounds are worked into the story. Background sounds of beeping, splashing, so on and so forth. Eventually that fades out. They bring it back in the last 15 or so minutes of the book. I hated it when they brought it back for the last part of the book. It felt distracting and unnecessary.
The illustrations in The Wild Robot were nice. I can see why picture book lovers would go gaga over them. To be honest, if they were available as stick-ons, I’d probably decorate my 8 year old’s room with them. They are precisely the type of thing that she would love. The pictures went perfectly with the book, and even though I looked at them after I listened to it, I could identify the sections of the stories they belonged to very easily.
So, I liked the narration, and I liked the pictures… why the “bit nicer” remark at the very beginning of this review? Simply put, it’s because I didn’t particularly like the book itself! The Wild Robot was a book just didn’t sit well with me. And it’s really hard for me to put why, exactly, into words. I think it’s because ultimately it felt like it didn’t know where it belonged. Its a book for young readers, but feels almost too long for the intended age range. The story is very sweet and fairy tale-ish in some respects, but there’s also a disturbing amount of death mentioned in it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against death happening in kids books. Death is a part of life, and we shouldn’t be afraid to occasionally express it in stories if necessary. But there was a lot of death in this book. It’s also a fairly long book, as well! Considering how little actually happens, it felt like it could be at least a third shorter than it actually was.
I appreciated that Roz was a ‘traditional’ simple robot instead of the ones with a more humanoid appearance. I liked the effort the author made at first to make it clear that she was a robot, and that she behaved logically as she was meant to do. But this is not really a story about a robot’s adventures on an island. It’s about an ‘other’ finding acceptance after she demonstrates that she’s not a savage and can be kind and caring and helpful. But, by the end of the story, Roz and all the animals on the island are human in everything but appearance. That took some of the fun away from it for me as I don’t particularly enjoy books where people use animals as human stand-ins.
Overall, The Wild Robot wasn’t horrible by any means, but it just didn’t appeal to me outside of the illustrations. My kiddo listened to the first half with me, then she completely lost interest in it, so I finished it alone.
Buy Link: Amazon