Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

Robopocalypse by Daniel WilsonWhen I first heard about this book, I was very excited: this seemed a really good book. You know I love dystopia and this looked like a great story.

Pam, of bookalicious Pam, on my panel of the Speculative Fiction section of the Indie Lit Awards, heard me going on about the book, and was so kind, very kind indeed, to send it to me, all the way to the Netherlands (she’s in the US). Thank you very much, Pam!

People had meanwhile warned me that they didn’t think the book was quite as good as they had expected, so I was a little worried.

I found the beginning of the book absolutely wonderful, but the story did dwindle down to just “OK” for me nearer the end. I did enjoy reading the book, though, and I am looking forward to the movie (Steven Spielberg, 2013)!

Robopocalypse: What it is about

Cormac Wallace of the Gray Horse Army presents in short chapters the transcripts of witness accounts, camera recordings and other digital records of people who have been part of the recent robot wars in some way.

Robots are taking over the world. The transcripts show unconnected cases in which a robot (previously harmless) has attacked human beings. Before people realise, all robots have taken over and start harming people (this includes household robots, cars, etc.).

Several people are followed through time: first attack cases, zero hour (when it all really starts), fighting back, etc. These read like separate stories within the same post-apocalyptic world, but eventually these all come together into an attempt to damage the robot brain behind the war.

Robopocalypse: What I thought

I loved the beginning of the book and I was convinced this was going to be a great read. In the end, I must say, it became a bit boring and I became disinterested. So on average, it was a good read.

I am not a keen short story reader and because of the way the book was set up, it seemed as if I was reading several short stories, of which an instalment was added in each main section of the book. Later on, these story lines came together, but before that happened, I began to be impatient with it.

I liked the human interest parts of the story (a couple surviving in an apartment building, a family escaping town, etc.), but the ending was more like a military story, which I enjoyed less.

The idea was interesting, and, given that the author is an robotics PhD himself, probably also possible: robots/machines being so intelligent that they take over from the humans. It wasn’t quite clear why so many humans needed to be killed, though.

In all, an interesting idea, with some great situations in the beginning, but with a somewhat boring ending.

Rating: 4/5 stars

I got this book: from Pam at because she knew I was keen to read it (ARC)

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 368

First published: 2011 (June)

Genre: dystopia, science fiction

A disappointed reader: Dead Trees and Silver Screens (review)

A happy reader: Under My Apple Tree (review)

I enjoyed this book a lot. If you read it and absolutely loved it, consider nominating this book for the Independent Literary Awards under Speculative Fiction. Any book blogger can nominate titles! (nominations open September – December)


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

23 Responses to Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

  1. I love dystopia novels as much as you, Judith, but this isn’t grabbing me for some reason. Maybe I’ll give it a miss. Glad you enjoyed it overall though.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I think it’s a little too commercial maybe, Boof. Maybe the writer was already considering a movie when he wrote it. I would have liked a little bit more human interest, but I did like the ideas in the story.

  2. Mrs.B. says:

    I love dystopia too. I didn’t pay much attention to this book because I thought it was a commercial one but now after your review, I’m definitely going to look for it!

  3. Tes says:

    What an exciting review, Judith! I am looking forward to reading this book 🙂

  4. Leslie says:

    I liked the book but it didn’t live up to the marketing hype it received. I would have liked a little more character development. I know we don’t get that with the vignette format, but Archos, the evil computer, was a main character and present throughout yet we learned little about him. And I agree parts of it got a little boring towards the end, but overall it was a good read.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Leslie, I agree, some more character development would have been nice. Archos wasn’t really explained very much, and that was a pity. I also wasn’t completely sure why all people had to die.

  5. sakura says:

    This looks interesting and puts me in mind of Asimov’s I, Robot series (which I loved).

  6. Susan says:

    I’ve considered reading this several times over the summer, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. But I’m glad you mostly enjoyed it. Maybe some day…

  7. Dan North says:

    I just finished it. I was engrossed at the start, when the first signs of a robot rebellion appeared, but by the end I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It’s full of bad action-movie dialogue (how many times can you read “Come on!” or “Let’s get the hell out of here!” before it gets tiresome?), thinly-drawn characters and heroic cliches. The over-arching message, that war brings out the best in humanity, is too simplistic, and just doesn’t cut it in this day and age.

    I was drawn in by Wilson’s roboticist credentials, which is why I was surprised to find it conforming so precisely to the apocalyptic Hollywood template. You won’t remember any of these characters, so it’s going to need some serious doctoring before it produces an acceptable screenplay. Spielberg, as he did with Jurassic Park, bought the rights before it was finished. He might wish he’d waited for the complete picture before he signed up to the initial idea.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I agree with you, Dan. It started off really well and I was very interested in the ideas and the story. But you’re right, later on it’s a rather cliché action movie.

      Like you, I also expected more from someone with a robotics background. I did like the book on average, but the beginning lots more than the end.

  8. suzigun says:

    Interesting to see what you thought. I read it without knowing anything about it, so had no hype to colour my perception. Maybe if everyone had told me it was going to be good perhaps I would have been a bit more critical.

  9. Nas Dean says:

    I wonder if I’ll like this? Anyway thanks for your honest review of it!

  10. Lena says:

    Great review. I have this on my TBR list. I’m glad it has a good rating. I was kinda on the fence as to when to read or whether to read at all. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to comparing notes.

  11. KimvA says:

    Great review. I hope I find the time to start this one soon

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