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To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy
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To Terminator, With Love

by Wes Kennedy

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Less Than Three Press in exchange for an honest review.

This is both my first book by this author, and my first book by this publisher longer than a 100 pages. Though this work here is only 152 pages.

“I’m pretty sure you just tried to sell me a bad Terminator meets Minority Report fanfic here.” – so says Dexter Wu, to Andre, when Andre Jackson tries to explain the situation.

And yes, there are elements of both in this book. Andre even says to Dexter – ‘If you want to live, come with me’ while saving Dexter from people firing guns at him. And the people are there because Dexter built a robot that supposedly will destroy the world. Though the people are not from the future (ala Terminator movies), but from the current present time – but have an ‘Oracle’ that lets them know of dangers before they happen (ala Minority Report movie (and short story by Philip Dick). Enough differences to keep it from being fanfic though. I mean, for one, Wu’s a complete wimpy whinny smelly self-centered guy. Not at all like macho take charge Sarah Connor. And, in many ways, Jackson comes across more as someone trying to be that Agent Smith from the Matrix instead of Kyle Reese. Personality wise (with some breaks of humanity).

Characters
Dexter Wu is a genus like guy with some gaping common sense holes in his personality make-up. He’s a graduate student and building a robot – to help kids read, though he can’t seem to get the robot to talk. As the story progresses, Dexter moves from the age of 20 to the age of 21.
Of importance: Sandhya, Griffin, Hal.

Hal is a robot set to destroy the world in the future. Or something. At the moment he appears to be ‘fighting’ Sandhya for place as best friend forever in Dexter’s heart. A line that appears in the book a few times – ‘just an inanimate object’ – though I’m probably paraphrasing.

Agent Andre ‘Junebug’ Jackson is an agent from The Agency. He attempts to help Dexter when his fellow agents seem to be going beyond normal orders.
Of importance: Meemaw (his grandmother), mother, father.

Kai ‘Sandhya Das’ Mondol is a woman from India who had graduated the year before the story opened and had been an intern for the last year. Is about to return to India when the story opens. She is Dexter’s best friend.
Of importance: Dexter.

Agent ‘Charles Griffin’ O’Connor is a minor character in the events of the story, but is included as a friend of Dexters. He gives off the appearance of being always stoned.
Of importance: None.

Plot
The book opens shortly before finals week and shortly before Dexter, the main character, turns 21. The book opens up normally with Dexter and his college friend joking with each other, going to a party, working long hours in the lab, etc.

Then things turn to the weird when Dexter happens to poke his head in his lab to ‘check on’ Hal, his robot, only to see people attempting to take the robot and Dexter’s notes. Probably for the first time in his life, Dexter charges forward angrily. The charging forward part, instead of cowering. The charge is brief before a return to the norm occurs, though by this point he is too far away from places to hide to cower. Suddenly guns appear. They go off. Dexter runs.

Somewhere along the way he runs into a friend. Who pulls and points a gun at his face. He is, naturally, very confused. Then that person is taken out, ‘you are going beyond our orders!’, and suddenly Dexter is on the run for his life. With his new pal, Agent Andre Jackson.

Lots of running. Lots of bickering. Agent Jackson seems a lot less mature than I’d expect (though the reason for that became apparent before the book ended). Dexter Wu appeared wimpier and a lot less interesting than I expected. Though he was bearable.

Eventually Jackson finds a safe place for Dexter to hide. And then things turn weirder, in a way. In the ‘our lives are in danger, the world! The world is in danger! . . . so let’s rest here in a place no one knows about despite family connections for some time playing video games and eating junk food’ way.

Overall
There’s a particular cliché that pops up that didn’t go over that well this time around, in my humble opinion.

Cliché: one of the two people keeps dropping lines from movies and pop culture. The other reacts and calls them on it. The first person acts confused at the mere idea that they said anything odd. Etc.

This Book: that seemed to happen several times in this book. Seemed because several occasions several of the reactions and calling the other on it took place in Dexter’s head, instead of out loud. Also, the whole idea of having Jackson say something like ‘my precious’, or ‘if you want to live, come with me’, and having Dexter react very very shocked is . . . confusing. Why is Dexter shocked? Nothing said is exactly from some obscure film. Quoting films isn’t something people just don’t do. So, why is Dexter shocked? Also, almost never does the cliché follow through. Jackson would say something, Dexter would react shocked, think, or even mutter ‘did he really say that?’ (why so confused that he would say that?), but only rarely call him on it. And instead of Jackson shrugging in confusion when called upon it . . . he wasn’t called upon it. Bah, I’m confusing myself. Not a huge deal.

Let’s just move on. This book hovered around 3.5 to 4 something for most of the book. Mostly because I didn’t particularly care about any of the characters. I didn’t dislike any of them, per se, but I also didn’t love any of them. But that’s livable. With a good other stuff.

Somewhere along the way I noticed certain moments that I assume were put in there for laughs, for humor. There’s only one occasion when I even cracked a smile. And it was an occasion that caused me to kind of roll around laughing loudly, so I can say there is humor in the book. And I found it funny. Once. Good enough, though, to bump the rating up to 4.

I suppose, at some point, I should comment on the LGBT nature of this book. So I’ll take a moment to do so. Andre Jackson is gay. Dexter Wu is asexual, though really likes kissing. From the facts dropped, Dexter is likely to have been happy enough to call himself bisexual (or some form of that, polysexual, pansexual, what have you), but for that asexual nature – I say that because he had a girlfriend long long ago, who he liked kissing, and he kind of fancied his BFF Sandhya. And kind of felt the need, at times, to hover near her like a puppy, just being in her presence. So Dexter is a needy asexual who love kissing. Andre is gay. The LGBT status of everyone else in the book is a data point unfilled.

May 2 2016
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  Lexxi | Jun 26, 2016 |
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