Publication Date: April 29, 2015
A borderline sociopath and technological genius, Dr. Alexander has designed an advanced cybernetic life form from prototype decommissioned military drones and top-secret experimental DARPA technology.
The HADroid was supposed to be a military grade robot with the transplanted heart and brain of a human donor that would “transform” into a devastating state of the art war machine when activated by its onboard human operator. But when the mad doctor steals the dying child of a simple Amish couple and transplants the brain and cardiovascular system of their dying eleven year old autistic son into the incredibly lethal robot the dark forces of government come looking for their investment.
Dr. Alexander and the monster escape into another Amish community to hide among the plain folk while Frank, the autistic eleven year old boy trapped inside the body of the world’s most deadly robot, befriends another child who will help the prisoner inside the machine to leave the world of autism and understand what it means to be human and Amish. But tensions arise among the plain and pacifistic yet closed minded Amish as they begin to suspect just what kind of technological monstrosity is hiding among them, and before long hard men who do the government’s most dirty deeds will come looking for a killing machine only to find a boy named Frank who has the power to defend a closed society from the worst of the world.
About the Author
Michael Bunker is a USA Today Bestselling author, off-gridder, husband, and father of four children. He lives with his family in a “plain” community in Central Texas, where he reads and writes books…and occasionally tilts at windmills.
Readers who subscribe to Michael’s newsletter get free copies of his books, usually before they’re published: http://michaelbunker.com/newsletter
[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the author for review.]
From the moment I saw Ben Adams‘ wonderful cover art design, I knew that Brother, Frankenstein was a novel that I absolutely had to read. And that the book itself was by Michael Bunker, an indie smash success and author of the best-selling Pennsylvania, sweetened the deal. Now, mind you, I’ve not read a full-fledged Bunker book previously; the closest I’d gotten was his collaboration with Nick Cole for Apocalypse Weird, but Pennsylvania has been sitting on my Kindle for a while now and he’s got some strong authorial cred behind him. Brother, Frankenstein seemed like as good a place as any to start.
The short of it is, this is a killer read, brother. If Witness by way of Robocop (the original, not the tepid remake), with a dash of Transformers mixed in sounds like a good way to spend a few hours, then you’re in for a treat. If it doesn’t, then, man, what the heck is wrong with you? (Joking! Maybe.)
Narrated in, largely, first-person POV by a narcissistic doctor who runs a pro bono clinic for the Amish, while working on biotech research for DARPA, we’re introduced to Frank. Frank is an 11-year-old autistic boy with barely a year left to live. Dr. Alexander, meanwhile, is working on an advanced cybernetic weapon for the government – cue your shades of Robocop here. Frank is like kin to him, so he transplants the boy’s heart and brain into the machine, which looks human enough but can transform into a massive, unstoppable ten-foot tall killing machine.
Just as the operation finishes, DARPA yanks their funding and Alexander finds himself in an impossible position, refusing to kill the boy whose life he just saved. He does the only thing he can and goes on the run with Frank, hiding in an Amish community where the boy can feel safe, even while both are being hunted by merciless government agents.
While there’s plenty of strong action, and an explosive finale that would make Michael Bay proud, Bunker really nails it on the human element and the strong familial bond that grows between Frank and his doctor. Both are set on a highly emotional journey that sees them breaking out of their shells and learning more about the very different worlds they share and inhabit. It’s tremendous fun to see how both influence one another and develop in their respective, and occasionally shifting, roles.
Michael Bunker has been dubbed the father of Amish Science Fiction, a genre mash-up that seems like one big oxymoron, but it works pretty damn well. Brother, Frankenstein is clearly a passion project for Bunker, and it deserves to find a strong and loyal audience, maybe even one to rival Pennsylvania. There’s certainly no dearth of action and thrills, and the technology is cutting edge, but it’s that thin line where these things of the modern world butt up against the plain-folk community and the ensuing culture clash that’s the most interesting and suspenseful. Highly recommended.