eBooks are definitely on the rise - and most authors out there will actually tell you eBooks have risen and are the top of the publishing game - so I decided I'd try out an eBook reader. Chapters (or Indigo or whatever they want to be called) is backing the Kobo, which from their marketing I suspect they're trying to say it's Canada's answer to the Kindle. I haven't read many comparisons, but from the sounds of things it's at least decent. I tried out the Kobo app for both the iPod Touch / iPhone and for my Blackberry. For a small screen, the apps do a very good job of making the books readable.
I snapped up a bunch of free titles, a mixture of classics and some free sci-fi fare. One of the titles I downloaded was His Robot Girlfriend by Wesley Allison. It's a very short piece, more of a novella than anything else. To be honest, I wasn't really impressed by the book; it would be unfair to say I hated it, but I do have some criticisms. I'm going to at least try to be fair in this review.
First, I recognized from the start that it seemed like Allison put some decent effort into world-building for this novel. He definitely has a vision of what a possible future might look like, with vueTees and texTees replacing Televisions and books / computers / anything electronic. He does a fairly good job of establishing a world that is at the same time different from what we know today, but believable in development.
My biggest problem with the book though is not his attemps at setting up the future world his characters must explore. It's the writing as a whole. Allison describes every little detail - such unimportant things as what the main character, Mike, does when he wakes up. And then repeats it every time he wakes up in the novel. Actually, it felt like reading an un-edited National Novel Writing Month book: there just seemed to be a lot of mundane activities going on in this novel to contribute to some word count that didn't really allow me to get into the story.
And that, too was a problem - there wasn't really much of a story. As good as his efforts were to create a unique vision of the future, he fell flat in the story-telling department and as I was reading, I generally felt unsatisfied with the number of themes left unexplored. What probably should have been the main story - the robot girlfriend company trying to pull off a massive identity theft scam - was relegated to the sidelines and dealt with in just two pages. Instead, Allison focused on the romance between Mike and his titular girlfriend; that would be okay, except it wasn't even much of a romance.
It really just seemed like the main character, Mike, was a pseudonym for Wesley Alison, and this story was just an elaborate sexual fantasy (oh yes, there was quiet a bit of robot-on-guy sex in this ebook).
Like I said I was impressed enough with the level of thought Allison must have put into this beforehand, but disappointed in the execution. That seems to be the general consensus among other reviews I've read online - great concept, poor delivery.
Anyway, it is free, so you get what you pay for in this case.