Richards, C.J. Battle of the Bots (Robots Rule! #3)
November 3rd 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
After the events of Robots Rule! and Lots of Bots, George and his uncle Otto find themselves in a difficult situation. Robots have been unofficially outlawed, and people keep dropping off their beloved servants at the junkyard, hoping that Otto will take care of them while things die down. Protesters are trying to destroy all of the robots, but George has more important things to worry about-- he is very close to restoring his parents, who have been digitized and stored in a device that George just can't get to work. Desperate, he corresponds with Dr. Micron, who is imprisoned. When Micron offers to restore his parents in return for being broken out of prison (he is, after all, sorry about everything and has reformed), George jumps at the chance. The good news is that Micron gets the machine to work; the bad news is that he uses it for his own evil devices. Terabyte Heights is once again under siege by Micron, and this time he is attempting to digitize all of the citizens. Can George fight off this current threat, save Terabyte Heights, AND get his parents back?
The pictures in the notebook style novel, as well as the goofy names (Anne Droid, Officer Dongle), will appeal to younger readers, and certainly there is enough fast-paced action to draw in even the most reluctant readers. The thing that I like as this series progresses is George's journey from being a student who can't pay attention at school to a technological wizard who is the only one able to save his town from destruction.
George isn't perfect: breaking Micron out of jail wasn't a great idea. George acknowledges that, but is desperate for help in bringing his parents. As the story progress, however, George must choose between having his parents and the safety of his entire community, and his decision is heartbreaking. It is unusual to find this sort of emotional depth in a notebook novel, but it worked and added a fascinating dimension to the battle.
The side stories, such as Jackbot's growing romance with the groombot Cookie, as well as the communities disenchantment with robots, move the story along and set the stage for a fourth book, which I hope comes out soon.
This series is going to be my number one pick for reluctant readers this fall. Readers will pick the books up willingly, given the bright and appealing covers that show humorous action scenes from the story, and will not have any problems zipping through the well-spaced, illustrated pages. Once lured into the books, I think that they will become connected to George, Jackbot, and the plight of Terabyte Heights, and find that sometimes a silly story can reveal deeper truths about the human experience, as well as the robotic one!