Author: Andy Marino
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
William Mackler is about to go on a 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?
Now here’s the thing about getting an advanced reader’s copy. Sometimes, the reviews are not good, such as the reviews for this novel, and now this book is being reworked as it was meant to be published this month, but is now aiming for 2018. Therefore, my review reflects the unrevised book, not the copy that will hit the shelves in a few months.
First things first, I need to explain something about Autonomous. It was marketed as a 14+ book and as a funny story. Also, when a book comes from Disney, you most likely will expect the book will be appropriate for teenagers to read, even if it says 14+ on the cover – it’s Disney, for goodness’ sake. Autonomous was absolutely not appropriate for youth. There were themes in there that twisted my stomach and that made my heart plummet, and I think I perhaps laughed once in the entire book.
However, if I had picked up this book elsewhere, I would have thought that it was freaking amazing. If the audience had been adults and the book’s teen-targeted content had been edited out, I could see how this would have been a horror/thriller that would have kept me up at night. I assume that the edits will remove all the adult content from the book, which is quite necessary for this to be published by Disney Book Group, but… I keep wondering “what if” this story is edited differently. I loved the car, I loved the social media content, I loved the psychology behind putting four very different people in a car that reads your mind and adapts a road trip to fit the occupant’s needs… and then this car turning dark and reflecting each individual’s darkest secrets… It was a really good ARC. Again, I’m just sad that this manuscript didn’t make it to a different audience.
I’d like to thank Disney Book Group for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I look forward to picking up a copy of the re-edited product, because despite all the bad stuff in the book, I actually enjoyed it.