The Obsoletes | Simeon Mills


The Obsoletes is a novel about two twin robots that tells a very human coming-of-age story. You may find this book shelved in science fiction, per the robots, but it could just as easily fit in with general fiction or young adult lit. Teenage twins, Darryl and Kanga, live in small-town Michigan where robots (androids) must blend in with humans and avoid arousing suspicion of their true identities, lest they risk being declared obsolete and violently disassembled –or, like Darryl’s parents, taken away. There is ample potential to draw comparisons between the societal structure of this novel and our own, and thus to relate to the very human plight of our robot protagonists. Even though this novel addresses some serious themes, Mills’ writing is brimming with humor and lightness. Darryl narrates himself and his brother doing regular teenage things, and this is expertly juxtaposed with uniquely robot moments like the loud whirring of Darryl’s processor when he sees his crush as school. One criticism of this book is that some of the high school humor is bit cliché, and doesn’t stand up to the incredible wit that infuses the rest of the story. But if you can forgive the worst instincts of basic teenagers and sleazy teachers, the rest of this narrative is uniquely charismatic.