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Watson, Paul E. The Robot. Razorbill, 2011. [272p]. ISBN 978-1-59514-372-3 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 8-10.

The book's title may be plain and simple, but the robot in question is anything but—in fact, she's crazy gorgeous, emotionally vulnerable, valued in the millions, and highly trained as an assassin. When Dover and Gabe, two teens tired of being on the geek side of the equation in high school, discover Trina (or Truelife Robot Intelligence New Assailant) in Gabe's father's super-secret laboratory, they are pretty sure that she can help them work their way into the "in" crowd or, given that she's the hottest girl they've ever seen, at least be a good distraction. The only problem is that once Gabe manages to activate Trina, she disappears, and what follows is a mad dash to try and figure out who her target is, why the government is following them, and how to get her back in the basement before Gabe's strict dad knows anything has gone awry. The secret mission of Trina is a clever and funny surprise: Gabe's dad, fed up with his wife's efforts at using Dr. Phil techniques to improve their marriage, chose him as the robot's hypothetical target, never dreaming she would actually be activated to fulfill it. Unfortunately, Gabe, teen genius, and Dover, sex-obsessed wisecracker, rarely break out of their assigned roles, leaving them rather flat, and their focus on being popular, even after a life-threatening adventure, is a bit disappointing. In addition, while the Dr. Phil scenes are funny, they do little to counteract the overall presentation of women as naïve, too emotional, and far too trusting (Dr. Phil's fanatical enthusiasts, Gabe's mom, and the government official who is tracking them all fit this mold). Still, for a quick action read, you can't really go wrong with a secret lab, teens causing havoc (and saving the day), and a hot robot. [End Page 546]



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