The first in a series of four books, SAM is set in a post-apocalyptic world where, as in the Terminator films, a robot revolution has taken over. Human society has moved underground, though adults seem to have disappeared from society. All that’s left are youths, pulling together into small groups and struggling to survive.
On one sortie to scavenge among the ruins of the city above, lead character Ian is saved from robot drones by an obsolete robot, scrapped by his next-generation overlords. Ian takes it upon himself to try and fix the robot to help the human cause.
This is early days for the series so there’s a lot of character development and world-building, but it’s clear that this relationship between the boy and the robot is going to be the main pivot around which the story is built.
The art is particularly impressive. Xiao Shang has made each panel look like a frame from an animé and much of the action is dialogue-free, with writer Richard Marazano giving Shang the room to progress the story without him. It works beatifully, playing to the strengths of the artist and giving it a light touch.
While it sounds dark, the book’s uncompromising background is tempered by the characters and the relative ineffectiveness of their robot overlords. As a result, it seems perfectly suitable for a 12+ audience. However, perhaps because of this, adult readers might find it a little light on post-apocalyptic horror and, as a result, under-whelming.