The Six by Mark Alpert – Review

Posted July 8, 2015 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Reviews / 14 Comments

The Six by Mark Alpert – ReviewThe Six by Mark Alpert
Series: The Six #1
Also in this series: The Siege
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 7/7/15
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4 Stars

To save humanity, they must give up their own.

Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam's only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero.

Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam's game. Created by Adam's computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam's life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam's dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat...before Sigma destroys humanity.


My Take

The Six is an interesting and exciting twist on the typical “teenagers save the world” theme – in this case, the teenagers are no longer teenagers, they’re machines. The book takes a look at real life artificial intelligence and where it could lead. What would happen if an AI decided to destroy us? What would we need to do to fight back?

In this book, Adam and five other terminally ill teenagers agree to give up their dying human bodies and have their brain activity moved into a machine so that they can relate to (and possibly fight) a rogue AI and stop him from destroying the human race. Of course, defeating the AI is not so simple – and neither is getting used to being a robot.

What I loved:

  • The machines. First off, there’s Sigma, the AI that has escaped the confines of the government facility it was created in and is now intent on squashing the competition – in this case, humans. It’s interesting to think about what would happen if an AI truly started thinking for itself. Typically, when we think of AIs, we think of happy-go-lucky servant computers that help us (a la Cinder). But personality, morals and compassion are a whole lot harder to program than intelligence. Sigma is probably a better representation of what could happen than that pleasant image we conjure. Then there were the robots that Adam and the other teenagers took over. I actually kind of liked the fact that they weren’t completely human looking. They were kind of bullet shaped and didn’t have faces or anything – which made the transition to being a machine a lot more difficult. You could almost imagine inhabiting a humanoid body, but something very different? The kids were even able to send their consciousness to other completely non-human machines (like planes, tanks, etc), which I thought made the story a whole lot more exciting and interesting!
  • The ramifications. My favorite part about a book like this isn’t the action (though there was definitely plenty of that), but the emotional ramifications of everything that goes with turning into a machine. Nothing of the original teenager remains when they’re transferred – basically their brain is copied. Adam’s mother is religious and believes that her son’s soul died when his body did – she doesn’t believe that this copy of her son is really him at all. On the other hand, one of the other mothers is also religious and believes that this opportunity is a blessing – a chance to save her son, who is on the verge of dying. The question is complicated. What makes us us? Are we simply a series of brain patterns and memories or is there something more? And if there is something more, does that something go along with our series of brain patterns and memories or is it completely independent? Is it tied to the body or not? What would happen if two versions of Adam were created? They can’t both be Adam, right? So does that mean that neither is? All of these questions and more are explored in this book, and I found that aspect of the story fascinating!

The negatives:

  • A love triangle type thing. The romance was just a very small focus of the book, but it was there. Adam had a crush who we only really “meet” through his thoughts and memories and then he develops a bit of a crush on one of the girls that is in the program with him. Then, to make things more complicated, one of the other girls in the program likes him as well and he kind of likes her back, which makes him feel guilty. I could have probably done without this aspect of the book, but it will probably appeal to the YA audience it’s intended for. And, to give Alpert credit, Adam pretty much acts like a teenage boy. Any girl who shows interest, he’s interested. Let’s face it, that’s probably about right, especially for a boy without a lot of experience with girls.

I’m eager to see where Alpert goes with the next book in this series! I give this book a very solid 4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author

alpertMark Alpert, author of Final Theory, The Omega Theory, Extinction, The Furies and The Six, is a contributing editor at Scientific American. In his long journalism career he has specialized in explaining scientific ideas to readers, simplifying esoteric concepts such as extra dimensions and parallel universes. And now, in his novels, Alpert weaves cutting-edge science into high-energy thrillers that elucidate real theories and technologies.

A lifelong science geek, Alpert majored in astrophysics at Princeton University and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the application of the theory of relativity to Flatland, a hypothetical universe with only two spatial dimensions. (The resulting paper was published in the Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation and has been cited in more than 100 scholarly articles.) After Princeton, Alpert entered the creative writing program at Columbia University, where he earned an M.F.A. in poetry in 1984. He started his journalism career as a small-town reporter for the Claremont (N.H.) Eagle Times, then moved on to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. In 1987 he became a reporter for Fortune Magazine and over the next five years he wrote about the computer industry and emerging technologies. During the 1990s Alpert worked freelance, contributing articles to Popular Mechanicsand writing anchor copy for CNN’s Moneyline show. He also began to write fiction, selling his first short story (“My Life with Joanne Christiansen”) to Playboy in 1991.

In 1998 Alpert joined the board of editors at Scientific American, where he edited feature articles for the magazine and wrote a column on exotic high-tech gadgets. With his love for science reawakened, he wrote his first novel, Final Theory, about Albert Einstein and the historic quest for the holy grail of physics, the Theory of Everything. Published by Touchstone in 2008, Final Theory was hailed as one of the best thrillers of the year by Booklist, Borders and the American Booksellers Association. Foreign rights to the novel were sold in more than twenty languages, and the movie rights were acquired by Radar Pictures, a Los Angeles production company. Alpert continued the saga of the Theory of Everything in his second book, The Omega Theory, a gripping story about religious fanatics who try to trigger Doomsday by altering the laws of quantum physics. His next thriller, Extinction, focused on brain-computer interfaces and a collective intelligence that decides to exterminate the human race. His fourth novel, The Furies, told the story of an ancient clan who share a genetic mutation so shocking that its discovery could change the course of history. And his first Young Adult novel, The Six, is about six dying teenagers whose lives are “saved” when their minds are downloaded into U.S. Army robots.

Alpert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two non-robotic teenagers. He’s a proud member of Scientific American’s softball team, the Big Bangers.


Author Links:
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14 responses to “The Six by Mark Alpert – Review

    • I used to read a lot more sci fi when I was younger, but have drifted away from the genre. It’s nice to get back to it sometimes!

    • Oh, wow! I’m glad to hear that your muscular dystrophy is mild – there are a couple of characters in the book who have it, actually. It might be easier for you to relate to what they might be going through I would imagine. (My brother has a mild form of spina bifida, so I know he often realizes what could have been.)

    • I didn’t realize until writing this post just how well versed in science the author truly is – the AI stuff all seemed pretty realistic to me (at least as scientific possibilities), and I’m guessing that Alpert truly knows what he’s talking about!

    • Yes! I didn’t realize how well-versed Alpert was in the science until I read his bio when I was putting up this post. Amazing, right?

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