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Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger
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This science fiction book, for those who are not particularly fans of the genre, is also quite funny. Set in the authors idea of the near future, it makes fun of constant testing in schools, robots taking over jobs formerly done by humans, in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. My main complaint is there are spots where the kids say things that sound more adult-like than true to the kids (middle-schoolers) they are. ( )
  geraldinefm | May 6, 2017 |
It's... all right. It's perfectly average. There are no groundbreaking ideas, no new techniques. It's aimed at a younger age group than YA (Percy Jackson, Underland Chronicles, et al). There's nothing controversial or gaspworthy inside. It's less about the robot and more about everything surrounding him. Like the AI that runs the school being super Big Brother. It's kind of like 1984 meets Double Dare.

There are some plot threads that taper off into nothingness, as if there were already sequels planned, which make me disgusted. I hate when marketers plan a series before anyone's seen it. The robot doesn't act much like a robot (I say that about every robot book, don't I?). There was a perfectly serviceable opportunity to present some interesting STEM topics here, like "what IS fuzzy logic?" "how does/could AI work?" WWW: Wake is a book that better explores these ideas, and I had no inclination to continue that series (too metaphysical).

I know I'm complaining more than praising, but the things that the book does right are basic and safe. Harmless. I could really only recommend this book if you've got nothing else that's flipping your cookie at the moment. ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 20, 2017 |
An interesting children's book on robots and AI
8:40 pm 26 November 2016
Fuzzy - Tom Angleberger, Paul Dellinger
This is interesting for a couple different reasons, but I'm going to be general before I get detailed. The writing was engaging but not complex. The best example of this done well, and my go-to example, is Isaac Asimov: the writing was simple but beautiful, engaging, and belied the complex ideas behind this. This also makes both this book and Asimov's pleasantly quick reads. There is no stumbling blocks of convoluted sentences and this is especially encouraging to see in a children's book. It makes it more entrancing for children who are reluctant readers.

And while this book doesn't delve into the complex ideas at the level that Asimov does, this is appropriate. He's writing for a much younger audience who would miss or be disturbed by many of Asimov's messages.

Fuzzy is a robot housing a program that should be self-serving: it learns on its own and is able to create code and programs on its own and for itself. However, it should also be able to use fuzzy logic, thus his name. Fuzzy logic isn't something the military, or anyone, knows how to program so they decide to send their robot to middle school to learn to engage with the students and learn fuzzy logic through them. And this is one reason it's not a full five stars: the logic here is, well, fuzzy. While the military hides through a grant to the school - and the proposition that it wants to integrate robots at students in the school - there's very little to hold this together. The higher ups get furious when Fuzzy is almost stolen. And while him going off on his own seems more dangerous than him being in school, he could easily be damaged at the school. Not to mention this seems like a really easy way to leak the secret of his origin since there are so many snoopy kids around.

But I soon forgot about this, until it kept getting brought up. I would get annoyed at those scenes, then enjoy the others.

See, Fuzzy meets Max, a girl who's into technology, especially the advanced kind. He enjoys her company: she's smart and kind and accepts him at the beginning, even when others do not. I also enjoyed Max, and she introduced an interesting subplot. See the vice principal at her school is an AI herself. Barbara controls most everything at the school and she seems to enjoy tormenting certain students, Max included. It becomes so glaringly obvious that Fuzzy notices, and is determined to help Max. There's even a high priority program that he codes specifically for that purpose. Just to make it even more obvious in case no one gets it, yeah, it's called HelpMax.

It's when these two storylines get more intertwined that things get more interesting, although I can't really explain how or why without spoiling this book. Let's just say that along the way what's human and what's right and what's sentient get examined, more closely than I expected. And yes, it's not the full exploration of a four hundred page adult novel. I, however, expected something basic for children. Something that wouldn't terrify them like a robopocalypse would. And yet this manages to get in enough depth and complexity to entertain an adult like me, yet nothing scary or dark enough to frighten children.

It was pretty beautiful to watch. Not only that, I enjoyed both Fuzzy and Max as main characters, as well as pretty much all the side characters. I expected to be bored when we went alone with Max to her home, but I was just more and more fascinated.

However, there were a couple funky writing places, and oh so many logic flaws and plot holes. Despite this, I'd be more than happy to read a sequel: this was a lot of fun.


science fiction Juvie read in 2016 ( )
  All_Hail_Grimlock | Dec 9, 2016 |
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When Max (Maxine Zealster) befriends her new robot classmate Fuzzy, she helps him navigate Vanguard Middle School and together they reveal the truth behind the Robot Integration Program.

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