13 Oct 2014



SOURCE: Read and reviewed on behalf of the author.

THE BOOK ACCORDING TO THE BACK COVER: A teen prodigy makes drastic changes to his life and attends high school incognito with Mike, an artificial intelligence. His plans take an unexpected turn when he buys a neglected former racehorse. To achieve his goals, he must change everything about himself.

FIRST SENTENCE {August}: Joe rode his bicycle along Beef Hollow Road

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 267}: "The God-fearing fundamentalists of the town were convinced that anyone with tattoos and piercings had the mark of Satan, was possessed, a prostitute, and probably had hepatitis C. They made my life a living hell."

MY THOUGHTS: OK, so first to tell you what this novel isn't. 

Despite what I felt was an awfully outdated cover it isn't a dated read but rather a very contemporary account of life as a modern slightly geeky, socially awkward teenager. Nor, despite it featuring a main character of Artificial Intelligence, would I describe it as a sci-fiction/fantasy read - rather disappointingly 'Mike' does not feature as often as I'd have liked and especially not in the earlier chapters. Bringing Up Mike is more a gentle coming of age story that actually isn't a story so much as a interwoven collection of events that occur when a teen prodigy finds himself, the guest of Martha and George, a newcomer at the local high school.

A book that you'll probably appreciate if you are after lots of morsels of information on subjects as diverse as the American school system and moving like a zombie to Civil War re-enactments and barbecue competitions and everything in between. A book that you'll doubtlessly love if you are into horses. For myself what I really enjoyed about the story and would liked to have read more of was Joe finding himself, the one-up-manship between himself and the almost pantomime like villain, Sly, and, more than anything else, Mike's questioning life and in particular his role in it (his pondering 'Am I a pet? Am I a slave' was one of the most moving things I've read in a while).

Overall an extremely thought provoking read for the young adult audience (and older) that will have you considering several moral/ethical dilemmas. Personally whilst I wasn't in awe of all the incidental information that came as part-and-parcel of the novel I do feel that Joe and Mike have a lot of mileage left in them, that this is only the beginning.


Karen said...

Really interesting premise. I don't think I would have bothered with it if not for your review.

Karen @ For What It's Worth

Kelly said...

A good review of what might be an interesting book. I'm just not sure it's really one for me for a variety of reasons.

Sherry Ellis said...

The cover does look a little outdated, but the book has an interesting premise. When was it written?

Suko said...

This sounds fascinating, Tracy,thanks to your review. I'm glad you found this moving and thought-provoking (a worthwhile read).

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Sounds cute enough but I'm not sure if it is for me. I do have someone in mind and need to recommend it to them. Brilly review!

Literary Feline said...

While I am not sure this book appeals to me, it sounds like something my friend's son would like.

Brandi Kosiner said...

The thought provoking aspect with the moral dilemas sounds well done

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I generally only bother with YA fiction if specifically requested to by an author or publisher, so under normal circumstances this is one I would have passed on.

This seems to be the author's debut novel and a case of him having written about a subject dear to his heart, emerging technologies and artificial intelligence.

It is always a good sign when you enjoy a book, so despite this one probably not being for me right now, I wish Mark every success with 'Bringing Up Mike' and thanks for the feature Tracy.

Brian Joseph said...

This does sound really good. I tend to like like of diverse references and happenings in a book.

I wonder if the name of "Mike" as the artificial intelligence is a reference to "Mike" in Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, who was a computer who became sentient.

Melliane said...

Oh it sounds like a good one! I didn't know about this one but the ideas are intriguing and finally deeper than what me might think. thanks for the review!

Stephanie Faris said...

I love the concept behind this! Computers and technology are such a part of everyone's lives now, and books like this make young people stop to think about it.