Sarah's Stars

John M. Cusick. Girl Parts
Candlewick Press $20.00 ISBN 978-0-7636-4930-2 240 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 16

The Sakura logo protruded from the surface of the case like a button. David pressed it. Something hissed inside, and the panels of the box began to slide away. Steam rose from within, machinery turned and whirred, and the panels tipped outward so that now the egg was a padded pink flower blossom. The mist cleared, and she was standing there, eyes open.

This was how Rose was born.

After computer-obsessed David watches a girl commit suicide over a webcam without batting an eyelash, his parents and a therapist decide to set him up with what’s called a ‘Companion,’ a high-tech robot built with the sole purpose of helping David reconnect with the world. But when Rose arrives, she’s not at all what’s expected: she’s gorgeous and she looks exactly like a real girl. Soon enough David’s relationship with Rose is progressing into something like love, even if she isn’t real. After David takes things too far with the artificial girl, she runs away and meets Charlie, a similarly disassociated boy. With Charlie’s help, Rose soon becomes more than a robot, as she develops a personality of her own. Unfortunately, the company that manufactured Rose is on the hunt for her, and Charlie isn’t sure how long he can keep her hidden.

Girl Parts is a very interesting book. It asks questions about things like love, technology and modern-day society, and its cast of characters is complex and believable. The main characters all change throughout the novel, and it is fascinating to read as they grow and learn from their mistakes. Rose herself is a whirlwind character, and her struggles transcend the novel into something more universal. It’s not just the fact that she’s a robot but wants to be more. Her story is about finding yourself, your voice, and being true to who you are. As well, both Charlie and David are heroes who make mistakes, and they both learn valuable lessons.

The plot itself is very absorbing. I sat down to begin the novel and before I knew it, I was halfway through. Rose’s first interactions with David drew me in, and her developing relationship with Charlie kept me there. While the ending left a lot to be desired, John M. Cusick has still written a great first novel that is both tender and touching, and a little bit scary too. It has great ideas and likeable characters. I just wish the denouement hadn’t left me with so many questions.

I give John M. Cusick’s Girl Parts four out of five stars.

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