Sunday 21 September 2014

#CBR6 Book 101: "The Silver Metal Lover" by Tanith Lee

Page count: 291 pages
Rating: 3 stars

Jane lives a pampered and privileged life, the only child of a wealthy and influential woman. She's lonely, insecure and immature. She has no real friends, just people who mainly seem to take pleasure in bullying her. One day, she encounters a robot minstrel, one in a new line of highly realistic, artificially intelligent androids and her life is never the same. Though she is initially frightened by the robot, she's also fascinated by him and can't put him out of her mind.

She runs away from home, giving up everything just to be with Silver, as she names her robot lover. She learns to fend for herself and makes a life on her own. She refuses any contact with her mother or former "friends" and begins to discover a wholly different, much happier existence. Yet the factory who first created Silver wants all the advanced robots destroyed and they are searching for Jane and Silver. How long until their happy romance comes to an end?

The Silver Metal Lover was written in 1981 and for as long as I've been reading young adult fiction with any sort of romantic element, this book has been on my radar. It appears on countless lists of romantic YA and has clearly meant a great deal to a lot of readers over the years. Yet the book never seemed to interest me all that much, probably because science fiction is not a genre I read all that much and robots are a lot less appealing to me than vampires, werewolves, faeries and witches. When this was the alt book in Vagina Fantasy book club in August, and the book also fit with my Monthly Key Word AND Monthly Motif reading challenges, I decided to check it out. I suspect that it would have made a much greater impact on me if I read it when I was actually a teen in the mid-90s than it did now.

First of all, Jane really is somewhat of an exhausting protagonist. She cries ALL the damn time. She cries so much she even points out that it's amazing she doesn't dehydrate herself from all of it. She's lived a sheltered and not very exciting life, so it's not actually surprising that she has the personality of a wet sponge, I just really didn't like her much at all. Even when she developed the backbone to run away to be with her robot lover, I didn't like her all that much. The best thing she had going for her was that every single character in the book, with the exception of Silver was so much worse than her.

Silver was pretty cool actually. I prefer my robots more of the Terminator variety, frankly, but as sentient robots go, he wasn't bad. I'm sure he could have done better than Jane though. Their romance didn't really work for me, as I found Jane dull as dish-water. The book had an interesting concept, but there are just so many better YA sci-fi romances out there now, and while it was a perfectly ok book, it didn't wow me in any way. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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