Contemporary Fiction, Self-harm, Sexual Situation, Substance Abuse, Suicidal Thoughts, Technology, YA Fiction
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Synopsis: William Mackler is about to go on the road trip of a lifetime. After winning a contest—and nearly dying in the process—he becomes the proud owner of Autonomous, a driverless car that knows where you want to go before you do. #Worthit! To sweeten the deal he gets to pick three friends to go with him on a cross-country trip to see their favorite band. For William, a reckless adrenaline junkie, this is the perfect last hurrah before he and his friends go their separate ways after graduation. But Autonomous is more than just a car without a steering wheel. It’s capable of downloading all of the passengers’ digital history—from the good, to the bad, to the humiliating. The information is customized into an itinerary that will expose a few well-kept secrets, but it will also force William to face some inner demons of his own. Think you know Autonomous? The real question is, how much does Autonomous know about you?
“The real question is, how much does Autonomous know about you?” Noooo. The real question is, how do I get back the seven hours I wasted on this? I was expecting snarky teenage humor with maybe a lighter shade of Stephen King’s Christine mixed in. Instead, Autonomous is a red hot mess that doesn’t seem to know what exactly it wants to be.
Disney is marketing this to 14-year-olds and up, and I absolutely disagree with them on this. Even if I had liked this, there is no way I’d recommend this to anyone under the age of sixteen for the following reasons:
1. There is so much swearing in this that it doesn’t even come across as realistic. Almost every sentence has some sort of curse word in it and this made the dialogue extremely awkward.
2. Sexual scenes which include one, where two of the characters decide they want to lose their virginity to each other. Granted these teens have graduated from high school, but there is no way I’d want anyone under the age of sixteen reading this.
3. Drinking and drug use is prevalent throughout the story. There are drinking games like “Never Have I Ever”, and one drunken scene involving a water tower which had me horrified. The character who’s addicted to cocaine defends himself by saying Sherlock Holmes used it. Just…ugh. There’s also a little side trip to a meth lab because of the bad decisions of a different character, which I just did not understand at all.
4. The contemplation of suicide, and self-harm are brought up but never discussed in a responsible way, and worse, there’s no resolution.
The only thing I liked in this book was the car, “Otto”, who I felt actually felt sorry for in the end. There are too many social issues thrown in together during this road trip and then adding in a cautionary tale of social media and our over-reliance on it, is a bridge too far.
When I first requested Autonomous the release date was set for 11/14/17. It’s now been moved up to April 2018, for reasons unknown. I’m hoping it’s so the author can do some much needed editing and rewriting. While I liked the premise, this book in the end, was a huge letdown. This is where I usually say, make sure you check out other reviews, but to be honest, there are very few positive ones out there. It’ll be interesting to see now that the book has a new publishing date, if once it’s released, the reviews improve. As of right now though, I would not recommend this to anyone, especially teens.
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