Reviews: Not Quite Human

Very fun premise, made better by a light-hearted presentation

A scientist builds an android, and to test it out, he sends it to middle school. Why middle school and not somewhere else? For the sake of the story. Turn off your brain before you step into this series.

Actually, that's not entirely fair, as there's in fact a lot of detail and intelligently thought out consistency in how Chip operates, "thinks" and interacts with others. He follows a consistent set of rules that guide his actions. When he does something odd, it always makes perfect sense in context. He interprets things people say literally to the point where his answers to rhetorical questions and his odd questions in response to metaphors give people the impression that he's eccentric or being intentionally funny.

That's where the Acceptable Breaks From Reality come in. In real life, any human being, let alone a middle school student, who acted and spoke the way Chip does would be bullied pretty badly. Instead, due to this series' light-hearted tone and sense of humor, the kids are rather tolerant of Chip and find him fun to be around, and he makes friends easily, to the point where one girl even develops a crush on him. When bullies do target Chip, they do so for reasons totally unrelated to his lack of social skills. It's unrealistic and too good to be true, but I think it works just fine in light of the books' light tone. Besides, pure realism would just drag the story down, in my opinion.

One odd design choice though is that the series is also part mystery. Every book involves Chip and/or Becky trying to stop a crime of some sort. Someone is framed for shifting money about in the bank, or Chip himself is framed for stealing trophies, or some other crime is going on, and Chip and Becky end up playing Robot Detective and Kid Detective together or separately. It's a strange way to use the characters, but it does put Chip's android abilities to the test. Chip ends up using his uniquely robot-like abilities, such as infrared scanners, seeing farther than a normal human, being able to mimic other people's voices, and ability to quickly recognize things only a robot would, to help solve the mystery.

It's very cheesy at times and has undeniably unrealistic elements, but I think the series does a good job of using its premise to make a fun story, so I'll give it leeway in the cornyness department.