Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (March 26, 2019)
Praise for FRIENDROID
"A timely parable for this generation of digital natives." ―Kirkus
"Vaughan presents another noteworthy sf middle-grade offering peppered with mystery." ―Booklist
"For middle-grade readers who are ready to fight the power." ―Publishers Weekly
Stranger Things meets robots in this sweet story about an unlikely friendship between two boys—one human, one android.
Eric Young is an android, but he doesn’t know. He does know that he’s just moved to Ashland, so it’s important to make the right kind of friends—the kind that would be interested in skateboarding and the new Slick sneakers his Uncle Martin sends him.
Danny Lazio doesn’t have any friends, but he doesn’t care. Even if his classmates don’t accept him, he still has Land X, the online role play game that he’s actually really good at. But then Eric takes an interest in Land X, and suddenly Danny thinks he might have found a real friend…if he can figure out the mystery behind Eric’s sudden disappearances and strange lifestyle.
It becomes harder to ignore the weird events that happen only around Eric. But uncovering the secret behind Eric’s identity is an act that might cost them both as powerful forces soon move in around them.
This heartfelt story about friendship and what it means to be human is sure to tug at your soul—or your soul-chip if you’re like Eric.
Danny: Wednesday: October 31
I didn’t go trick or treating. Mom and I both pretended that it was because I was too old to go out collecting candy, but I think we both knew that it was because I didn’t have anyone to go with. By seven
p.m. the trick-or-treaters had all gone, and Mom and I sat down to watch TV. We were about twenty minutes into Halloween Harlem when we heard a loud bang outside—right in the middle of a super-creepy scene. We both jumped about three feet off the sofa.
“What was that?!” asked Mom.
I shook my head. “I don’t know—it sounded like it was right outside.”
Mom ran over to the front door and opened it. There was nobody there. I followed Mom out onto our front porch, and we both looked around to see where the noise could have come from.
Mom shrugged and put her hand on my shoul- der. “Must have been a car backfiring or something,” she said, and then something caught her eye and she gasped.
Mom bent down and picked up a rock lying next to the front door. She stared at it for a moment and then looked up at me. I couldn’t read her expression— I think she might have been scared. Or mad. Or both. “Who would do something like this?” she whispered, looking down at the rock in her hand.
That red rage that sometimes comes over me came over me. I didn’t think about what I would do if I found whoever did it—I just knew I wanted to catch them. I ran down the front steps toward the sidewalk. There was no one around, but whoever it was couldn’t have gotten far.
“Danny! Stop!” shouted Mom. I heard her running after me, but I kept going.
And then I heard her scream.
It was dark, but I saw Mom running onto our lawn. I ran over too, and that’s when I saw the body lying on the ground. Mom rolled the body onto its back. The boy wasn’t moving, but his eyes were wide open, and there was blood running down the side of his face. To top it off, his face was painted like one of the Death Creepers in Night of the Zombies.
“He’s just a child,” whispered Mom. She pulled his hood back from his head. As soon as I saw the blond hair, perfectly gelled back, I knew exactly who it was.
“Mom! It’s Eric!”
Mom was now in nurse mode, she had taken her sweater off and was pressing it to the side of his head. She looked up at me.
“Eric?” she asked.
“You know, from the fund raiser. The one who I was talking to.”
Mom’s eyes widened, and then she looked down at Slick. “Eric, sweetie, you’re going to be fine. We’re going to get you help.”
She looked up at me. “Danny, keep this pressed up against his head. I’m going to call nine-one-one.”
Before I could say anything, she jumped up. “Keep talking to him!” she said as she ran into the house.
I stared down at Slick. I wasn’t sure he was breathing. And I really didn’t think I had anything to say that would help, but I did what Mom told me to do.
“Hey, Eric—wake up,” I said. He didn’t move. I was starting to think he really might be dead.
Mom ran back out; she was talking on the phone, spelling out the name of our street.
“He’s in bad shape, you need to—”
Before she could finish the sentence, an ambulance pulled up in front of our house, and two female para- medics jumped out.
Mom stopped and stared at them as they dragged out a stretcher from the back, then remembered she was still on a call. “Yes, sorry, the paramedics just got here . . . yes . . . someone must have already called you . . . thank you.”
I stood up to give the paramedics space to do whatever they needed to do.
“Did someone call you?” asked Mom. One of the paramedics nodded.
“Did they see what happened?” asked Mom. The paramedic now holding Slick’s ankles looked up at Mom.
“We are not at liberty to share information about patients,” she said.
“Do you need his details?” continued Mom. “Ma’am, we are dealing with a situation here if you
wouldn’t mind stepping out of the way.” “His name’s Eric,” I said.
“Thank you,” said the paramedic, “we have all the details we need.”
“Can we accompany him to the hospital?” asked Mom.
“No, it’s all under control. He’ll be fine.”
“Is he dead?” I said. Mom fired one of her looks at me.
“No, he’s not dead. He’s fine,” said the paramedic. “Now if you could both step out of our way.”
Mom and I moved out of the way and watched as one paramedic gave the other a nod, and then they lifted Slick’s body onto the stretcher. I saw something drop from Slick’s hand. As the paramedics wheeled Slick away, I walked over to see what it was.
I picked it up and turned it over in my head, piecing together what had happened. It didn’t take me long; it had been Slick throwing rocks at my house.
By the time the shock had worn off—maybe a few seconds—and I looked up, the paramedics had already put Slick into the ambulance. I could see Mom getting more and more angry with one of the paramedics, who was ignoring her. Mom threw her hands in the air as the ambulance drove off.
“Grab your jacket,” she said urgently as she walked past me back to the house. “We need to let Eric’s parents know what happened.”
I was going to say something about Slick and the rock, but she was gone before I had a chance to. When she came back, she was on the phone to her friend Annie, getting Slick’s address, so I didn’t have a chance to say anything until we were on our way. By that time I’d decided to shut up about it; I knew my Mom wouldn’t think this was important when Slick was lying unconscious on the way to hospital, but I disagreed. If Slick wasn’t dead, I was going to kill him.*
*Not literally—I just mean that I was really mad.
This is a good book about friends. I enjoyed reading it even though I am not much of a scifi fan. It's definitely a book, kids will enjoy especially since one of the characters is an android. My niece who is 10 has been bugging me to borrow my book since she found out what it's about. I can't go into to much detail as I will ruin the book for you but I highly recommend it to kids. 3/5 Bloody Fangs
Photo Content from M.M. Vaughan
The daughter of South American parents, Monica Meira Vaughan grew up in Spain before moving to London at the age of five where she learnt English by watching Sesame Street and reading every Roald Dahl book she could get her hands on. On leaving school, and after a brief stint in public relations, Monica decided to train as a primary school teacher. She spent over ten years working in special needs, mostly with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, before becoming a full time writer.
Monica loves writing after midnight, building cardboard cities and playing Lego with her daughter. She lives in London, UK.
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