Michelle's Reviews > Girl Parts

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
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Sep 12, 10

Read in September, 2010

Girl Parts is an interesting look at how children of a certain age are disassociating themselves as a result of the growing use of technology. The primary focus is on two boys, David and Charlie. As one would imagine each boy leads life differently but both maintain the commonality of being marked by school leaders and parents who are concerned about their increasingly dissociative behavior.

David is not lacking in the friend department. He and his compatriots are seemingly popular in a “rule the school” kind of way. There are undertones of bullying and hostility but it’s not until he is found to have observed the online transmission of a tragic event concerning a school mate that his parents take any action. The resolution for what they consider to be this first step towards desensitization and disassociation is bringing Rose to live with them. The thing of it is that Rose isn’t real in the human sense she’s a robot. Built to be a Companion for boys on the brink she’s specifically designed to provide a personal connection, a relationship, for her “boyfriend”.

Charlie is a boy who lives with his single father. The father, who treats Charlie more like an adult than a child, continually expresses his concern for his son’s tendency to be isolated. Though what he doesn’t necessarily know is that Charlie isn’t isolated by choice he’s a bit of a nerd (like his father) and that doesn’t draw the popular crowd’s attention. At least not the positive kind anyway. Charlie too is a potential candidate for a Companion bot but convinces those around him that he doesn’t need that type of help.

The two boys do end up crossing paths over time. Not only do they live near each other but they go to the same school and eventually come to the realization that they have a common bond. Rose.

The most interesting aspect of Girl Parts is the way Cusick has built in so much irony. Parents want their children to have deeper personal relationships yet they don’t use actual people to achieve that goal. These same parents want to distance their children from technology but then use technology as the catalyst for re-association. It’s really quite enjoyable to dig into the motivations of it all.

Does it all work out well? Hell to the no!

Just like relationships with real girls there are expectations and difficulties. There is conflict and miscommunication galore. What Cusick shows us is that when all is said and done there is more bad to these “faux” relationships than there are with girls made of flesh and blood or even no relationship at all.

Speaking of which, over the course of the book we see the different and complex relationships that both boys have with girls human and robotic alike. It’s a veritable schmorgasbord of high school couplings. David is a bit of a ladies man who, after a bad break-up, works his way through all the pretty and popular girls at school. He is all about the superficial and sexual there is not a whole boat load of depth to him. Girl Parts does a good job of exploring the idea of superficiality. David starts out as all raging hormones and need for a connection (ie: sex) with Rose. The speed at which he accepted Rose was too quick and abrupt, there wasn’t much hesitation in his accepting her into his life as a partner. But you could see, over time, that he was genuinely attaching himself (in a more than physical way) to her. Until, ultimately he accepts the reality that she is, in fact, not a human and as a result can’t do all the things humans can. This shifts his journey and growth in relation to the opposite sex yet again.

Charlie on the other hand is awkward and socially inept. He makes the attempt to date but is not always successful in his endeavors. It’s not until Rose arrives in his life that steps outside that box and starts making some long-lasting changes. He evolves to a place where he feels more comfortable with himself and with the girls he wants to get closer to. For Charlie it is less about the superficial and more about depth of character.

At the center of all this progression is Rose. Cusick has created both she and the situation that surrounds her as a very dynamic plot. Her humanization is the thread that weaves the three of them together and ultimately provides the boys the stepping stones on which they alter their lives and how they approach relationships.

Cusick is an excellent writer who’s set the scene appropriately for the story, with general focus and not much depth. It has the futuristic twist of the Companion bots but does not take the reader completely out of time and place. I felt completely oriented and was able to focus more on the characters and plot instead of the world surrounding them. He excels at character development — he’s created a fun, interesting and insightful journey that has the potential to resonate with any number of teen and adult readers.
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