Title: Goddess in the Machine
Author: Lora Beth Johnson
Publisher: Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC
Publishing Date: 2020
Genre/Format of the Item: Book
Reading Level/Interest Level:
Grades 8-12 (NoveList)
Plot Summary: Andromeda (Andra) was never excited about being put in a cryogenic slumber for 100 years, but was willing to go because her parents felt that it was the best thing for their family. Earth was becoming over-crowded and too hot, and a new planet had been found to colonize. Instead of waking up 100 years later, Andra is woken up 1,000 years later. She is all alone and not on the planet of Holymyth. Andra meets Zhane and Lew and they journey through the dangerous desert to find their way to Eerensed. There Zhane faces his half-brother that killed his mom and banished him from the safety of the dome. Andra is revered as the “Third Goddess” but cannot seem to prove herself as a diety, because, well, she isn’t a goddess. The people have put their faith in finding her and hoping that she can be their savior for their crumbling safety zone. Andra and Zhane team up to challenge Merit, the Gov, and his evil mother. Andra learns a lot about herself and her abilities, and faces many challenges along the way. The gripping conclusion will be both startling and exciting!
Author Background: Lora Beth Johnson currently lives in Davidson, North Carolina. Johnson is the author of two books, a duology: Goddess in the Machine and its sequel, Devil in the Device. Johnson also teaches college level English (Johnson, n.d.)
Critical Evaluations: I really enjoyed reading this book. Andra is a likable character and it was fun and interesting unraveling her true identity of both herself and Eerensed. The new language spoken by the people of Eerensed is a slangish, shortened version of English and was a little difficult to decipher at first. It became easier to understand over time though, and it added an interesting element to the book. I found the true identity of Andra very surprising in both an exciting and slightly sad way. I think that the characters were developed well and it was easy to become bonded with them quickly in the book. I think that teenagers will enjoy this unique look at technology and the various ways that the future might both interpret and use advanced tech science. The romance between Andra and Zhade was also an added draw that I think will appeal to teens. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and hope to read the sequel to the book soon!
Creative Use for a Library Program: This book could be used during a teen evening exploring science fiction and AI. The Davis High School Robotics Club could come and give a presentation to interested teens about their program. They could offer a short robotics hands-on learning session and also answer questions about robotics. This book could be highlighted on a table with other science fiction books.
Speedround/Book Trailer: When Andra is woken up from her cryogenic sleeps, she assumes that she will be welcomed by her family on the new planet of Holymout, 100 years in the future. Instead, she finds herself alone and fighting for her life in Eerensed a thousand years after she first went to “sleep”. What went wrong and how can she find her way back to the world that she loves and knows? Find out more in the exciting new novel, Goddess in the Machine, by Lora Beth Johnson!!
Potential Challenge Issues/Defense Preparations: Possible challenges may include discussions regarding the violence and the presence of AI (artificial intelligence) themes throughout the book. I would argue that science fiction will often include artificial intelligence and that it is a fun topic for teens to read about. The violence is not gruesome but it is present. It is mostly used as a way for the author to highlight the dystopian nature of the colony found at Eerensed. I think that teenagers will enjoy reading about this fierce and fascinating protagonist and her adventures in the year 3102.
Reason for Inclusion: I included this book in my collection because I wanted a dystopian fiction or science fiction book and this novel worked as both! It was an interesting premise that kept my attention the entire book. I think that teens will like Andra and enjoy the twists and turns that Johnson gives her readers!
Read Lora Beth Johnson’s sequel, The Devil in the Device
Johnson, L. B. (n.d.). Bio. https://www.lorabethjohnson.com/bio
Penguin Teen. (2020, June 30). Goddess in the Machine: Official trailer [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4tqUYiWx2U
School Library Journal (@sljournal). (2020, July 6). “Reminiscent of Moira Young’s “Dustlands” series, this novel by debut author Johnson is a must-purchase for all YA science fiction collections. Highly recommended.” http://ow.ly/R0PY50AqsFX SLJ’s starred review: Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson [Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/sljournal/status/1280102502445264897