Title: Expiration Day
Author: William Campbell Powell
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan)
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: April 22, 2014
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction…
Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.
Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?
Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.
Told in diary format, Expiration Day is the powerful and poignant story of a young girl coming of age and discovering what it means to be truly human by a talented debut novelist.
Expiration Day is one of those books that is exceedingly difficult to review. It is such a shade of gray between good and bad, that I find it difficult to articulate my thoughts on it. Expiration Day deals with some pretty heavy issues, like what it means to be human, and it is told through Tania's diary. It is also the plausibly futuristic style of writing in science fiction that I usually love. However, I still find myself searching for words.
Tania, the main character in Expiration Day, made me feel like a robot. I sympathized with everything going on in her life to an extent, but I finally got to the point where I was only an unemotional spectator. She was a sweet girl, but the more complex she got, the more distant I became. It makes no sense to me either.
The world in the novel is believable enough. Well, I guess I should say that I could suspend disbelief enough to accept that there were very few human children, and "parents" would be willing to take on teknoids instead. What I had a major issue with is parents being willing to accept only have their teknoids until they reached adulthood. I have seen firsthand how attached people get to the dogs that they have instead of children, so I really couldn't believe that so many either sent their ward back early or docilely allowed them to be taken. Yes, there are explanations for this, but I just couldn't buy it.
Tania Deeley deals with some pretty heavy issues in the book. It's hard to define humanity, and by the time period of Expiration Day, it appears to be no easier. Despite the difficulty in determining the difference between a "real" human and a teknoid, the teknoids are given no more rights than a beloved house pet. The humans don't really fare much better because if you're fertile, your job is to make as many babies as possible to keep the population up. No, you don't get a choice in this matter.
I think what made me lack a connection with Expiration Day, versus other novels with the same heavy questions, was the format in which the book was written. I don't necessarily have anything against diaries, but it just didn't work for me in this book. Tania eventually starts addressing her thoughts to Zog, an alien that she made up who will find her diary in the future. Once Zog had his own little pages between Tania's diary entries, I was done. It's one thing to have robots and emotional issues, but throwing in aliens, too, was overly rich.
I neither liked nor disliked Expiration Day, but it did make for a book difficult to write about. If you happen to read and review Expiration Day, be sure to stop back by and share your thoughts with me. I'd love to see which parts worked well for you.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.