Science fiction and fantasy
by Nirina Stone
Sidney's first instinct is to run from Petra and Henry, the man she fears is a raider. The plot thickens when they encounter other suspicious people, and when Petra's programming behaves unexpectedly. Allende is a post-Earth world, so its technology is in some ways so advanced it seems like magic. In the case of its android bots their AI seems human, whilst Petra herself is supposed to be a unique model.
The story is told in the present tense, which can come across as quite abrupt and even jarring. The third person narration switches between Sidney's, Petra's, and more seldom Henry's points of view. There's a thread of them learning to trust each other and growing from strangers to friends, whilst Petra figures our what her choices mean on the occasions when she has a conflict between upholding one Allendian law or part of her programming, and another.
There is plenty of action and excitement. Depopulation has left Allende mostly with criminals and violent, selfish people who think nothing of treating others with contempt, so the main characters tend to spend a lot of time trying to escape from bad people. However, they're doing this in an Earth-like world that is nevertheless full of surprises, so there's never a dull moment. The main characters are sympathetic without being bland innocents or heroes, and they have to navigate their own moral dilemmas as they try to survive and protect the people or things they care about.
My main issue with Petra is that it takes itself rather seriously. However, it is an enjoyable, fast-paced post-apocalyptic story of android ethics and the challenges of surviving the end of the world.
4th August 2019
If you like this, try:Pure by Julianna Baggott
When the Detonations hit, those unprotected were left with horrifying mutations. The Pure inside the Dome were the lucky few. But is anyone safe and untainted in this post-apocalyptic world?
Angelfall by Susan Ee
When a teenager's little sister is abducted by angels, she sets out on a journey across an apocalyptic wasteland to retrieve her. Book one in the Penryn and the End of Days series.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy