TrooFriend by Kirsty Applebaum

Publication Date: 2 April 2020

The BlurbImagine having the perfect friend, one who never steals, lies or bullies. Now you can, with the TrooFriend 560, the latest in artificial intelligence! What can go wrong with a robot buddy? Especially one that’s developing human characteristics and feelings, and who has just run away with her human?

The Review

Having adored The Middler, I was so excited to see what Kirsty Applebaum would write next, and I really wasn’t disappointed.

Intelligent and insightful, TrooFriend is an enthralling tale of family, friendship and what it means to be human, with a sinister undercurrent that sweeps you along.

In a world where humanity is dependent on technology, to the extent of providing a safe replacement to human friends for children, we see the desperate need for human connection, be it from family or friends.

Sarah’s issues at home and school are exceptionally relatable, as are the decisions she makes to be popular. The use of Ivy to highlight the right or wrong of those decisions is subtly done as we see her begin to think for herself and become a sentient being, and helps to create the growing sense of unease underpinning the story.

Sarah grows throughout, from an angry, selfish child who doesn’t realise what she has and is fed up of being alone, to a caring, compassionate child who recognises her mistakes and owns them.

With themes of friendship, loneliness, morality, ethics around A.I., and what it means to be human, there are so many different discussions and debates that can arise.

The news coverage of the growing crisis shows how quickly it can stir up panic within a populus, and how differing groups can be labelled very quickly, and those labels stick, whether proved or not.

Huge thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me an early proof copy.

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