The Six by Mark Alpert

The SixSourcebooks Fire, July 1, 2015

Adam is dying slowly and painfully from muscular dystrophy. His dad would do anything to save him, but for now all he can manage is to  keep him supplied with virtual reality games that help him feel like he can still move even though he’s confined to a wheelchair and rapidly losing motor function. One day through his game Adam encounters a serious virtual enemy. The problem is, that enemy is virtual, but also very real–so real that  it’s threatening the human race. Soon, the government hatches a plan to use a group of dying teenagers, including Adam, to fight this artificially intelligent enemy. The doctors say they’re all about to lose their lives anyway. But in order to join the fight and save humanity, they’ll have to abandon their ailing bodies for good.

This is a gripping story full of fascinating questions. Could a computer equipped with artificial intelligence take over the world? How would we fight it? If your body fails but your mind remains, do you still exist? Would you make the choice to live in a robotic body if the alternative was dying?

Teen (and adult) readers will love this book. It’s not just a fast-paced, exciting story, but an invitation to explore existential and ethical questions. Readers will consider whether a person can exist within a robotic body. Could the soul live without the body? They’ll consider the ethics of artificial intelligence. Do we have the right to develop programs that are extremely powerful and that evolve? It’s a dream and a whole passel of nightmares rolled into one.

I read The Six as an electronic ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley. Release is scheduled for July 1, 2015.

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