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E Copy provided by the authorIn a vaguely dystopian future, Vick and Tara are just some of the abandoned children who scrape out an existence scavenging in a garbage dump and living on the roof of an abandoned apartment building Tara is on the autism spectrum, so doesn t take the disruption to her life very well, but she is also very talented at fixing technology, and after finding a special computer chip in the dump, constructs a very intelligent robot, Daisy There are a lot of individuals, a E Copy provided by the authorIn a vaguely dystopian future, Vick and Tara are just some of the abandoned children who scrape out an existence scavenging in a garbage dump and living on the roof of an abandoned apartment building Tara is on the autism spectrum, so doesn t take the disruption to her life very well, but she is also very talented at fixing technology, and after finding a special computer chip in the dump, constructs a very intelligent robot, Daisy There are a lot of individuals, and some emerging companies, that are building very sophisticated and fierce watchdogs of various designs, and Tara and Vick manage to come across the radar of Ms Alba, who is enslaving many of the homeless children so that they can work for her While the two make some good connections, the way Ms Alba treats Tara is completely unacceptable to Vick, and despite the fact that they both have trackers installed in their arms, the two escape After a lot of fighting and hiding, they manage to reconnect with one of the other orphans and her friends Together, they decide that Tara can use Daisy and her chip to build an army of watchdogs and try to defeat Ms Alba so that the children caught in her trap can be released Tara is very skilled, but the odds are stacked against the children Can they work together and use technology to assure a slightlycomfortable future for themselves Strengths This was a good length, the story moved along quickly, and the cover is fantastic I got the feeling that there was a very complete outline and that this was well edited to remove extraneous explanation so that the story didn t bog down The tech details were fun, and the idea of small concerns trying to capitalize on a need was interestingly done There were just enough characters to be able to keep them all straight and have them be adequately developed Vick s concern for his sister is very touching, and his ruthlessness at getting revenge on a robot who took his mother s job rang true The happy ending would stand on its own, or pave the way for a sequel Weaknesses The junkyard setting made me think of Farmer s The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, which I disliked intensely Luckily, while the story included lots of scenes in the junkyard, it also got out into the city of Chicago, so that helped Tara at one point says she is severely autistic , but she seemed highly functioning to me Her manifestations of this condition seemed a bit uneven, but then she is in a very unusual situation I could have used a fewdetails about how Chicago had devolved into such chaos, and about Ms Alba as well What I really think While this might lack the minutiae of world building that older, hard core sci fi fans would like, this is a good, fast paced introduction to dystopian novels that will appeal to a slightly younger middle grade crowd I will definitely purchase this for sensitive souls who think that they want to read The Hunger Games or Divergent but who aren t ready for the length or the dark tone of those books I ve also had a run on robot book requests lately, and this will be perfect Cool story about robots and family love I really like how the characters dealt with the autism. I m not happy with this, but it s not horrible.Full review to come later. Will McIntosh s Watchdog is dystopia, sci fi for the middle grade reader It is definitely not as dark as Hunger Games, the Testing, Maze Runner, etc., but it clearly has the hallmarks of dystopian with its future society that is definitively divided into the haves and have nots with a cruel ruling faction seeking to control others The sci fi aspect comes from the plethora of robots that exist to serve serve humans, whether it be as a household bot to do chores, an industrial unit that perf Will McIntosh s Watchdog is dystopia, sci fi for the middle grade reader It is definitely not as dark as Hunger Games, the Testing, Maze Runner, etc., but it clearly has the hallmarks of dystopian with its future society that is definitively divided into the haves and have nots with a cruel ruling faction seeking to control others The sci fi aspect comes from the plethora of robots that exist to serve serve humans, whether it be as a household bot to do chores, an industrial unit that performs the tasks typically handled by so the so called blue collar worker, or protection and or military devices Vick and Tara, the book s parentless brother sister main characters, have found a microchip that makes Tara s robotic creation named Daisy into a wayadvanced, thinking and processing robot that allows them to see a possible way out of the homeless state that they are now in But Ms Alba, the central villain, wants the chip and will stop at nothing to get it from Tara and Vick The expository section of the book goes very quickly, but the rising action plodded some, which almost caused me to give the book a 3 star rating, however, the climax and resolution portionsthan made up for that bit of slowness Professional reviews seem to be unhappy with the whiteness of the book s characters, but I went back and searched and cannot find anywhere that Tara and Vick are described in a way that indicates Caucasian Ms Alba is clearly defined as Asian East, an important supporting character, is called dark skinned having a halo of curls around her face, and two other key characters Rando and Torch, are specified as a black guy and a white guy with dreadlocks, so McIntosh is fairly inclusive in his cast of characters In addition to being racially diverse, Tara is a brilliant electronics designer and is also on the autism spectrum, although her manifestations of the disorder are very different from students I have known over the years Readers in grades 5 8 who enjoy action adventure and sci fi are the likely targets for this book and I recommend it for libraries with fans of these genres and or promote the Texas Bluebonnet nominees The author keeps this work free of profanity and sexual content and the violence is almost entirely robot on robot actionand lots of it [ FREE PDF ] ♍ Watchdog ⚈ Thirteen year old twins Vick and Tara have built an incredible machine a loyal robotic watchdog named Daisy But, when local crime boss Ms Alba schemes to add Daisy to her robot army, Vick and Tara must go to great lengths to protect their prized pet Because Daisy is than just any robot she s their constant protector, and together the three make a great teamVick and Tara are determined to stop the mob from tearing their little family apart And they might just succeed Sure, the evil Ms Alba has robot watchdogs, but none are as smart or as faithful as their Daisy Plus, if things get too dangerous, Tara could always upgrade their pet With her mechanical skills, she could make Daisy bigger, stronger, and a lot intimidating
The author is someone I follow, and has yet to have a book that has let me down And this one is another good one Watchdog is a fairly dark middle grade semi post apocalyptic book Sure there are plot holes but it s a fast read with cool ideas and interesting characters and worth it action This book is somewhat simplified compared to the others, and the characters are a bit younger But it doesn t make the mistake of talking down to the reader But a book where basically all the kids are on th The author is someone I follow, and has yet to have a book that has let me down And this one is another good one Watchdog is a fairly dark middle grade semi post apocalyptic book Sure there are plot holes but it s a fast read with cool ideas and interesting characters and worth it action This book is somewhat simplified compared to the others, and the characters are a bit younger But it doesn t make the mistake of talking down to the reader But a book where basically all the kids are on their own because their relatives abandoned them and society doesn t care, might be a little hard for most young readers to take Fast, exciting, middle grade read No deep thoughts here, but I think my reluctant readers will like it Will be putting it on my next library order. Vick and Tara s watchdog Daisy make them feel safe on the streets of a pretty grim future Chicagountil she s the reason they are targeted by a local crime boss. Watchdog is a fun book I know you re going to love, Esteemed Reader, so feel free to skip this review and just go get yourself a copy if you like it will save time My review is as follows This book is swell Here s a blurb for Delacorte Books for Young Readers feel free to put this on the jacket going forward at no charge This book has robots in it I like robots Will McIntosh s name reminds me of a McMuffin That sounds so good right now I m going to go eat one Middle Grade NinjaNo Watchdog is a fun book I know you re going to love, Esteemed Reader, so feel free to skip this review and just go get yourself a copy if you like it will save time My review is as follows This book is swell Here s a blurb for Delacorte Books for Young Readers feel free to put this on the jacket going forward at no charge This book has robots in it I like robots Will McIntosh s name reminds me of a McMuffin That sounds so good right now I m going to go eat one Middle Grade NinjaNow that we ve dispensed with that review business and progressed my booming empire of book blurbs, we can move on to our true purpose which is to discuss craft elements we can apply to our own writing I m assuming y all are writing about middle grade autistic robot inventors as well The first thing I have for you this week, Esteemed Reader, is to note the way in which McIntosh introduces genre up front in chapter one remembering there was no way for him to guarantee there would be a robotic dog on the cover Tara was nowhere in sight Huffing, Vick trudged around the base of the mound he was working on, arms spread to aid his balance as his feet sank into the trash She was sitting on a filthy mattress on the opposite side of the mound, waving off the flies and laughing as she watched a TV show on a decrepit handheld with a missing back panel Vick had no clue how she d gotten it working, but it didn t surprise him Wild audience laughter drifted from the handheld Vick guessed she was watching Boffo, a reality show where people gave domestic robots tricky orders so the robots would do the wrong things and look stupid It was one of her favorite shows.This is the very definition of show, don t tell The description of the trash and the broken television tells us our heroes are living in a not great situation by showing us that situation The television program introduces a central concept of the book this a world in which advanced robots live among people and they re so commonplace that there s a TV show about tricking them In a decade, maybe less, this might no longer be a giveaway of the type of story we can expect as we ll all be living in such a world, but in 2018 this is still Sci Fi territory.Pro tip If a writer ever takes the time to tell us what s on a character s television radio internet holocomputer etc, it s a good bet we re about to be introduced to some vital exposition, either because present characters don t know the information and need to learn it, or because it s a faster way for the reader to learn something In both my zombie stories, characters get vital information from the TV If you re a reading a writer who describes what s on a fictional television and the content of the program has no bearing on the story you re reading, that writer is an amateur and you should put their book down.McIntosh God, I want a McMuffin applies this same skill when it comes to introducing our characters Witness how he describes Tara while simultaneously telling us information about Vick and setting the parameters of their relationship From his angle, her profile was hidden by her dirty blond hair with the emphasis on dirty Every morning he tied it back with a rubber band to try to keep it clean, and within an hour she took it out She was so small she could pass for a seven year old With the difference in their sizes, and Vick s dark hair and Tara s light, no one could believe they were twins.Behold how he conveys the age of our protagonists in a manner that s relevant to the situation and the story and which provides additional crucial exposition Thirteen was a bad age to be homeless Not young and cute enough for pity, but not old enough to hold their ground against grown ups.Unlike certain books about giant robot bees you might read and not even realize the title character is on the autism spectrum until you read the sequel or the author s blog , Watchdog puts the autism of its main character on main street If you re looking for a book specifically dealing with autism while also being about a charming and engaging story and the reader in question is too young for Gone , Watchdog is a great book for this purpose.I d happily hand a copy to anyone who s either on the spectrum or in contact with someone who is and probably you are even if you re unaware of it The Ninja himself hums tunelessly and possesses many other spectrum traits Tara is a wonderfully sympathetic hero who succeeds not just despite, but perhaps because of her autism Tara s brain works differently, which is good Vick and Tara and Daisy, who we ll talk about in a minute need a brain that works differently to get them out of their present situation A sudden wave of homesickness mixed with sympathy for Tara nearly doubled Vick over He squeezed his eyes shut until it passed As much as it ever passed Routine and sameness were so important for Tara a classic symptom of autism It won t be exactly the same as home, Tara But it ll be nice You can have your own room Tara just stood there, arms dangling at her sides, gazing off to Vick s right A cloud of flies buzzed around her head A few landed on the corners of her mouth Please help me Dig You re the one who knows what we re looking for What we can sell Okay I m sorry She knelt where she was and picked at the trash, moving it a piece at a time The little robot sat beside her, wagging its rat tail I know it s disgusting I hate it, too You can go away now You re bothering me, Tara said Vick sighed as he turned away You never had to guess with Tara she always gave it to you straight He headed back to his spot Behind him Tara began humming tunelessly.As they settled into the trash, Tara pressed close to Vick Mom had told him most kids with autism didn t like to be touched or held Not Tara When she was scared she went overboard the other way, pretty much climbing into your lap and squeezing you until you couldn t breathe.So, what is a watchdog anyway I could give you my less good definition, or I could just let McIntosh do it I love watchdogs Tara reached up and set her hand between the thing s shoulder blades, which rose and fell like levers as it walked It didn t seem to notice People called them watchdogs, but you could build them to look like anything a tiger, a spider, a velociraptor or they could resemble nothing at all This one looked like a cross between a pit bull and a four legged T rex It had an oversized head, with dozens of silver fangs bristling inside massive jaws The body was squat and powerful, the hind legs shorter than the front ones One look at it was enough to know it was designed to be a fighter It was technically illegal to create a robot designed to kill, but it was a gray area Even a domestic robot could crush someone s windpipe, and it was hard to know what a robot could do just by looking at it As long as you didn t outfit one with an automatic weapon you could probably get away with anything, especially in bad areas like this one Police rarely ventured into this neighborhood any, and when they did they definitely had no interest in tangling with a watchdog.Here s another pro tip if you introduce any fictional thing, such as a robot dog, readers want to know about the most interesting version of that fictional thing Viewers don t care about all the Nova robots who weren t struck by lightning They care about the fifth one Why Because number five is alive.And if you aren t old enough to catch those references, then good for you Nothing makes me feel older than remembering that within my lifetime there was a mainstream movie that involved a white actor darkening his skin and taking on racial stereotypes for laughs and not nearly enough people thought it was weird until later as evidenced by an equally successful sequel But my horror in learning that some of my favorite things from childhood are marred by racism is the subject of another post.There are many watchdogs in Watchdog, but the one we most care about is Daisy Why Because thanks to Tara s brilliant inventing, Daisy has become sentient So much so that she s able to reinvent herself and other robots, which is a terrifying concept, but lucky for middle grade readers, Daisy is friendly and fiercely loyal to her humans Daisy starts out small and relatively harmless, but she doesn t stay that way for long.Vick couldn t quite believe this little robot was helping design her own new body Robots didn t design A high end domestic robot couldn t decide what brand of coffee to buy unless you told it exactly It would stand in the coffee section of the supermarket for eternity, trapped in a decision loop.Eventually, Tara s talents are discovered by Ms Alba, who wants to take the twins off the streets and provide them with a job designing robots, which is good Unfortunately, Ms Alba is a sinister crime lord not unlike Oliver Twist s Fagin, which is bad In no time, the kids are involved in multiple chases and futuristic battles with robots, which is what we all came to read in the first place.McIntosh s story is fast past and never gets bogged down with too many details Watchdog is less concerned with the intricacies of robotic human integration and crime life although there are unavoidable parallels in the story to America s current blight of extreme economic inequality , andconcerned with robot fights This book is a lot of fun and would make a great movie I enjoyed this story and I have no doubt you will as well.And that s where we ll leave it except for one thing You regular Esteemed Readers know how much I love it when writers get all writer ly in their books I never can resist drawing attention to it But I mean, McIntosh, or at least, his character, isn t wrong Mom hadn t graduated from high school, but she d always pushed them to do smart things visit museums, see plays instead of movies She loved trashy romance books, but her rule for herself was she had to read one classic Moby Dick or Jane Eyre for every trashy romance she read No matter how boring the book turned out to be, she read every word.Make sure you come back Wednesday for the interview As always, I ll leave you with some of my favorite passages from Watchdog Tara rose and trudged toward him, her pet robot hopping along at her heels looking like a cross between a big rat and a rag doll, its cobbled together parts all mismatched, its face nothing but a snout and eyes on scuffed silver metal.It was almost dark, and the last sun rays gave the unlit lights down West Huron Street a glow, a reminder of when Vick was a little kid, before the economy crashed and everything turned bad Bad in the poor neighborhoods, anyway The lights were still shining in the wealthy neighborhoods on the north side.His entire life seemed like a slow motion fall down a flight of stairs.They d only been able to take what they could carry, and mostly that was stuff Tara insisted she couldn t live without Things like her plastic toy robot collection and the Disney Purple Girls shirt that hadn t fit since she was four He d been stupid to let her load them up with so much junk when they could have been carrying food and medicine, but he d been so sure this was temporary, that some adult was going to swoop in to save them He hadn t realized that when things got bad, when there weren t enough jobs and people were hungry, adults only took care of their own kids You need to talk to your sister If she gives them grief, they re going to make her life miserable Yours, too Talk to his sister If things had been different, he might have laughed at that She s autistic When she gets like that, it s like a switch was flipped in her head She can t help it You might as well tell the wind not to blow 4 1 2 stars I really liked this book for middle grade It was exciting enough for an adult to enjoy, even with the kid elements The human parts autism, homelessness, caring for a sibling, food scarcity are all relevant to today s issues.