Publishers Weekly Review
Recent high school graduate William Mackler has one goal: to win Autonomous (a self-driving, fully-automated luxury vehicle worth millions) and take his three best friends on the road trip of a lifetime to Moonshadow, a Burning Man-like festival in Arizona. He wins the contest, but William and his friends Melissa, Christina, and Daniel are all hiding things, secrets that reveal themselves as the car, dubbed Otto, becomes more and more independent. In a fast-paced, tech-saturated, and thoroughly hashtagged road trip story, Marino (Uncrashable Dakota) looks at the potentially insidious side of artificial intelligence and highlights how friendships change as people grow up. He does an excellent job of focusing on what makes William and his friends human-they are imperfect, and no single rule is ever set in stone ("We taught [Otto] how to be a dick just by being ourselves," William realizes as the trip goes haywire). Otto can't quite wrap its processing unit around these facts-the nuances of what makes humans human aren't imitable, even if Otto learns to tell a good joke or two. Ages 14-up. Agent: Elana Roth Parker, Laura Dail Literary. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 10 Up-Autonomous, a luxurious self-driving car, is the new craze of the automobile industry and one of the firsts of its kind. This car will learn everything about the owner, from their dreams to their darkest secrets before they can buckle their seat belt. Autonomous will take them exactly where they want to go, or where it thinks they should go. William Mackler, a senior graduating high school, is the lucky winner of the Driverless Derby. After spending countless hours standing with his hand glued to Autonomous, William wins the "all-expense-paid cross-country road trip" and he can take three of his friends before they all part ways. Set in current time, this work is written using the trends and social media of today, making it easy to understand through the dialogue of the characters. There is strong language implemented throughout, sex and drugs used as coping mechanisms, as well as mentions of suicide. Four kids and a driverless car are off to work out some deep issues and confront their secrets, so be prepared for the ride. Autonomous truly acts independently of its owner; the car is in control and takes William on the thrill ride of his life. VERDICT A unique addition to any science fiction collection.-Gilly Yildiz, Eisenhower Public Library, Harwood Heights, IL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
The first thing William Mackler noticed upon sliding into the hermetic silence of Autonomous was that the car . . . had no steering wheel, dashboard, or gearshift, no gas pedal or brake. What could possibly go wrong? This is the question that Marino (Uncrashable Dakota, 2013) explores here. William is about to leave on the road trip of his life after he wins a contest to travel in Autonomous, a driverless car that can read thoughts and desires. He and three friends embark on the journey, which very well may lead to a life-threatening conclusion. The premise leads to an ultimately predictable series of events that put William and his friends in danger throughout the novel's time line, but not without a few twists and turns along the way the car can, after all, read minds. In the end, the novel will appeal to a niche audience looking for escapism without the full emotional investment of similar danger-fueled, sci-fi adventures. Consider pairing with Philip Reeve's Railhead (2016) for another interesting take on sentient vehicles.--Bittner, Rob Copyright 2017 Booklist