Author: Tyrel Pinnegar
Publication Date: November 17, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+
Length: 124 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
This is the journal of Tammy Maheswaran, a reclusive roboticist living with undiagnosed autism. It documents the creation of Mariimo, a developmental robotics platform through which Tammy subconsciously externalizes her issues with isolation, anxiety, and touch. Upon the machine’s activation, Tammy gradually begins to realize that in the act of constructing Mariimo, she’s been unknowingly deconstructing herself.
Content Warning: Detailed descriptions of what it feels like to have anxiety, phantom pain from a limb amputation, and brief flashbacks to a car accident during which the main character was seriously injured.
Not everything can be planned out in advance.
I enjoyed Tammy’s character development. She told the audience almost nothing about herself when we first met her, so it was refreshing to see her slowly evolve into sharing more details about her personality and interests as the storyline progressed. I liked the process of exploring parts of her life she’d been completely silent about before. My opinion of her was fairly neutral in the beginning, but it swung over to something warm and positive once I had a stronger understanding of how her mind worked and why she made the choices she did.
The pacing was very slow, especially during the first third of the book. While I understand that this was done on purpose due to the fact that Tammy had undiagnosed autism and was meticulous about how she created MARiiMO, I did have some trouble remaining interested as the narrator gave me so many chapters on the many different materials she used (or, in some cases, decided not to use) to make her robot come to life. I was glad I stuck through with it to the end, but the pacing was enough of a deterrent for me as a reader that it did have a negative affect on my rating.
Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that compared the differences between how a human and a robot may react to the same unexpected event. Even Tammy’s thorough planning phase in this experiment couldn’t predict everything MARiiMO did after she was created. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I thought this subplot was one of the most realistic and well-developed ones of them all. The author pushed everything to its logical conclusion and wasn’t afraid to extrapolate even more plots twists from the tiniest wisp of earlier ideas.
MARiiMO was a thoughtful read.