Dinamite Reviews: Our Only Chance (An A.I. Chronicle

I received a free copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Our Only Chance is the first book of a series about an android named Einna, who was created by the scientist Manaka. In the modern world of Japan, Manaka industries have taken over almost every corner of the technological world, thanks to her Einna’s ability as an AI to construct mind-boggling leaps that mere humans couldn’t figure out themselves. But what Einna is truly searching for is a way to become a human herself in this modern day Frankenstein, amidst the turmoil brought on by competitors, the yakuza, and even her own mother.

Since this story was advertised as a “Frankenstein retelling,” I felt compelled to read it. I love retellings and seeing the way someone can twist an already famous work into their own piece. Granted, I haven’t read Frankenstein myself (yet) but I know enough about it from movies and discussions to understand the basic story. I was also interested in this book because it was set in Japan. I love anime and manga, so a book set in the place where those things originate definitely has my interest.

Unfortunately, this story just…didn’t really impress me. I almost clocked it as a DNF because the middle section was going nowhere real quick and I was finding myself slugging through it.

The beginning was good, giving us the initial setup as to how Einna came around and how the world reacted to her and her technological advances. It was interesting to read how the yakuza became involved with the project as a whole and how certain characters were caught between a rock and a hard place.

I liked the ending, where things went wrong for our characters and all of the secrets were revealed. And it was open enough so that the continuation would be warranted.

But everything in between was stilted and boring. The writing style was too expositionary for me to deal with. The author told me what emotion the people were feeling more than I actually felt it through the characters. My sympathies for the characters and their dilemmas were borderline nonexistent. By the halfway point, I found myself not nearly as invested as I thought I should be in regards to the overall story.

I only felt somewhat sympathetic towards Einna, who seemed to be the only one with a noticeable goal. Everyone else’s motives were almost on the backburner half of the time until the author felt like reminding the reader that there is some kind of actual conflict in-between every other science project.

There were a lot of weird elements introduced that the author tried to piece together into some conglomerate rock that was the overall plot, but some of it felt like filler while other bits felt contrived and forced. They mostly came out of nowhere and added only a spritz of interest.

Overall, I like the setting and the general concept. The execution of it, though, is a bit rough for me to handle. It started out strong, but then somehow exhausted itself during the middle section.

This gets a low rating of two out of five from me, and I don’t think I’ll pick up the series. There wasn’t enough for me by the end of the book to make me want to read the second one, even with an exciting and open ending.

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