What first attracted me to Machinations when I saw it on NetGalley was the beautiful cover. The epic imagery of the mountain in the background and the golden field; the silhouette of a woman with a gun draws the eye toward the title, and then to the juxtaposition below it. Excellent cover.
The Good: It’s a post-apocalyptic/dystopian story with a female protagonist. That’s definitely in my top three favorite genres. I think Machinations is what some of the later Terminator movies should’ve been. Sentient machines just got to kill the human race. Step up miss hero and show these rag-tag humans how to fight.
The Bad: Our hero, and face of the human resistance, Rhona Long dies. Oops, the humans just can’t seem to get their stuff together without their icon. Let’s clone her! Huh, machines blow up our cloning facility, and she’s kind of cloned, but not really. Gasp! What will we do?
The Ugly: The biggest complaint I have about Machinations is that it’s just a standard science fiction story. It’s been told before. I can’t even say that the author paraded out the old tropes in an interesting way. The story was very predictable. The similarities to the ‘post-judgment day’ Terminator franchise makes me scratch my head. I’m not sure if the tepid sci-fi story is because of the author (I hope not) or because the publisher, Random House/Hydra had five different editors cutting away all the unique stuff to make the book ‘more sellable.’ This story could’ve been so much better.
The Final Word: Man, this review seems pretty harsh. Not my intention. I enjoyed reading it, and would totally read the sequel, Counterpart. Standard sci-fi is still fun to read, and I’ve read some real stinkers in my day. Machinations is still worth a read, especially if you like commercial sci-fi. I suspect that most of my qualms are due to the publisher’s ‘design by committee.’ (I’m not biased, although I’ve gotten rejection letters from Random House/Hydra.) I’d give Machinations three and a half stars, and look forward to seeing Counterpart on NetGalley.