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"Annie Bot" | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider

“Get outside your box,” I told myself, picking up a copy of “Annie Bot,” by Sierra Greer, a contemporary novel about A.I., featuring a comely, eager-to-please female robot owned by an insecure guy who has a lot to learn about life, love, and most of all himself.

Annie is a custom-made Stella, an autodidactic Cuddle Bunny. Her owner Doug could have invested in another model, one especially brilliant at housework, but he’s lonely and insecure, having been jilted in a relationship with a “real woman.” Doug craves sex and Annie delivers—her bedroom expertise super human—because she is super human and can control her temperature and set her libido to respond when, where and how Doug decrees. His early take on Annie is that she’s terrific in bed, but he wishes she “could sweat.” Gotta love this guy.

Doug does take his responsibility for training Annie seriously. He’s OCD when it comes to his house and is sure he can teach her how to keep his place clean. When she doesn’t perform to his rigid standards, he’s quick to criticize her in demeaning ways. The next minute he comes in for a hug. Annie recognizes when Doug is displeased and tries to avoid anything that might make his temper flare.

When Doug’s longtime friend Roland, recently engaged, comes by to have pizza and beer with his buddy, he mentions how much Annie looks like Doug’s old girlfriend, Gwen. She should. Doug had her fashioned in Gwen’s style, but made her skin lighter, and picked a hazel eye color for her, different than his X’s. Roland is taken with Annie and though she realizes she shouldn’t, she oversteps bounds with him in a move that proves to be Annie’s demise. When Annie confesses her worry about Doug finding out, Roland tells her she should keep “it a secret” because that’s what “real women” do.

Naturally, the secret comes to bear on Annie and Doug’s relationship which deteriorates to the point of cruelty on Doug’s part, climaxing in a disturbing scene in a closet that could have been toned down and still made its point.

While there were glitches in this page turner, I had trouble setting “Annie Bot” aside, it’s story so engaging, Annie so genuine and innocent you can’t help but root for her and detest Doug as he emotionally knocks her down, yet one more time. Comparisons to “real women” can be made time and again, as Doug doles out control and emotional abuse.

While I thought I had figured out how “Annie Bot” would end, it took an entirely different direction that proved immensely gratifying.

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