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Bringing Up Mike by Mark Duncan
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Bringing Up Mike

by Mark Duncan

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Showing 5 of 5
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have mixed feeling about Bringing Up Mike. The messages and controversial topics discussed throughout the novel peeked my interest, and were my favorite part of the writing. However, I could not relate to the characters because they did not display true emotions. While Duncan would describe what scene was tacking place, it was hard to find layers to the characters feelings, especially Joe's. Sometimes it felt like Mike was the person and Joe the computer. Overall 2/5 stars. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  1110cg | May 26, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The formatting of the paperback book is horrible. It looks VERY unprofessional: inconsistency about whether there should be dots between each scene break or not, but much worse: there is a line break in between every paragraph. (Cringes.)

The dialogue is very wooden; none of the characters have their own distinctive voice. Also, it would have benefited from more dialogue tags, because after the tenth line of no reminder which characters are discussing a social issue, it's very hard to remember who's questioning and who's answering. (Nobody's ever disagreeing about anything.)

I like that the author tries to bring a frank perspective to things, but he utterly fails to work in all the social issues he wants to talk about properly. Conversations jump from one topic to another, logical without emotion, and his characters all speak the same way. Neither the AI nor the main character nor the romantic interest girl have any personality. They just sort of flatly parrot what the author wants them to say.

I really saw no sense of plot in this book. There was *maybe* enough plot to fill a ten-page short story, but it would have to be a lot less jumpy. Worse yet, with no personality, it read like a bunch of preachy essays (all of which have definite opinions, and don't just discuss the issue: they make bold assertions about black and white, and then expect you, the reader, to believe the author's opinions with absolute authority).

The pop culture references were very forced. I got most of them, but they really stood out in a bad way.

I'm not really sure what the back of the book has to do with anything. "To achieve his goals, he must change everything about himself." Um . . . really? I didn't see any character change. Ever. At all. Oh, yes, and that brings us to . . .

. . . the villain. Who is a one-dimensional moron, and yet treated like he is a real threat. Of course, he's only in the plot occasionally. You know, as sort of a token attempt to pretend a real plot exists.

I will say that there were many punctuation errors, but I presume those will be fixed in the final product. (I received a free Advance Readers' Copy.)

The author had me solidly at two stars because of book's formatting, but it could have risen above that, had it engaged even my intellectual curiosity. (I'm a very smart person. So are all the people in my family. I *like* intellectual debates and stimulating conversations and rebellious teenage geniuses. I found Sophie's World, which is basically a philosophy textbook with a bit of character interaction and plot on top of it, fascinating.)

This may be a case of an author getting published too early. This work really isn't bad: for the first draft of an author's first book. The problem is, it's not publication-worthy. It needs solid workshopping with a writers' group, and probably to have the author write three or four other books before he tries to publish anything.

Shame on the publisher for formatting this book so badly (looks like it was done with Microsoft Word, not any sort of desktop publishing program -- Scribus would improve it tremendously, and that's free). Also, shame on the publisher for publishing this book as-is, when it clearly needed more work.

My advice to the author is: join a writers' group. A bunch of beginning writers can help each other out a whole lot, and make your next book way better. As you grow together, your advice to each other will be better and better, too.

This book needs a good, solid rewrite. Most first-time authors' books do. If the editor will not give you the advice you need, go elsewhere. The same goes for treating your print book's formatting with basic courtesy. The book has potential. It failed to live up to it, but it could have been a lot better than it is. Keep working on your craft, and I imagine you can have some really good stories to tell in the near future.
  EmilyMarthaSorensen | Oct 26, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book as part of the early reviewer's program. The book I read was an Advanced Reader's Copy, so hopefully the final product will be more polished.
I found it difficult to keep reading this one. The story line is continuously interrupted by random facts and philosophical and/or political ramblings. Often the facts had nothing to do with what was going on with the story. It is like talking to a know-it-all that constantly trying to prove how smart he is.
I can not get a handle on the age group this book is intended for, at first I thought pre-teen but there were many comments I found to be inappropriate for that group. (i.e., a talk between 2 teen girls that starts with "Seems our grandmothers were Fertile Myrtles. All the women on our side of the family have strong sex drives. We are too spontaneous for our own good. Implants are our salvation." It goes on to explain that the one character has an implant but then the discussion switches to touting abstinence as the way to go.) The viewpoints expressed by the characters are very schizoid.
Teens would not appreciate the "preachiness" and adults would not find much of interest to them.
The authors comments at one time or another will anger just about anyone (right wing, left wing, blacks, whites, Fundamentalist Christians, Catholics and Wal-Mart shoppers to name a few). Like the quote above should anger women in general.
I could keep going on but as Thumper's father says "If you can't say something nice......... ( )
  mamaove | Aug 3, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program. What happens when a child prodigy (PhD at 16) realizes he’s missed out on a lot of life and needs to give an extended Turing Test to his AI program? Bringing Up Mike.

The story moves well as Joe packs up and heads to Tennessee and the start of both his experiment and a year of high school. The writing is clean and clear; characters have distinct voices. Philosophical discussions on the nature of good, bad, friendship, love, etc. are sprinkled throughout the book as Mike, the AI, learns more about the world. Meanwhile, Joe navigates through high school, rescuing an abused horse, and realizing.

At times things are too pat. Just when something is needed, it turns up. Situations resolve neatly. When asked, every character seems to have the answer to the specific question. The author balances explanation and action well in this book. The pace is steady and I found myself interested page after page.

Mark Duncan does a strong job in setting the scene and carrying the main character through a year of high school.

I look forward to reading more by this author. ( )
  ggprof | Jul 11, 2014 |
Did you ever notice that most of the people you know are good-hearted, intelligent, and generally fun to be around? But so many of the characters you meet in books, TV shows, and movies are horrible, often stupid, and hard to care about? Bringing Up Mike is a breadth of fresh air in this regard, because in it I met a lot of people I would love to have in my life: good-hearted, intelligent, and generally fun-to-be-around folks. Even Mike, the eponymous AI (Artificial Intelligence)! Moreover, here you won't find murders, drugs, or high-speed chases -- unless you include horse races -- just nice, ordinary and extraordinary people helping each other deal with the ups and downs of life. Mostly ups, by the way; this is no tear-jerker. Instead, this coming-of-ager had me rooting for all of the major characters all the way, enjoying my visit into their lives, and learning much interesting stuff about race horses, music, and so much more. And don't be put off by Mike being an AI. This is no science-fiction novel. It is a very human story, and Mike is just another character, and not really even the main character. Mike is also coming of age, as implied by the book's title, but he does NOT go wild and try to take over the world. Bring Up Mike brings up some provocative questions about the place of AI "persons" in our near future, while immersing us in a slice in the life of a very clever young man and the new friends he meets in and around a Tennessee race-horse farm. You'all come back soon, ya hear! I'd be glad to spend some more time with you! ( )
  elainerhodes | Jun 9, 2014 |
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Joe rode his bicycle along Beef Hollow Road.
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That's what the sword said. Nobody asked if I wanted to be forged.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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askmar publishing

2 editions of this book were published by askmar publishing.

Editions: 193584248X, 1935842498

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