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The Six

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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.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published July 7, 2015

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About the author

Mark Alpert

19 books180 followers
Mark 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 Mechanics and 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.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 233 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,405 reviews9,539 followers
July 18, 2015

I thought this book was awesome! I'm going to give out maybe a couple of mild spoilers, you pretty much get the story from the blurb of the book anyway!

Adam has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, he will be dying from this disease in the near future. Adam is a little genius too, he must have gotten this from his dad as he is a computer genius. His dad works with the Unicorp Lab working on an Artificial Intelligence Program.

They already made an AI program called Sigma that turned into a singularity-level AI, which means it broke away and became it's own entity. Sigma breaks into Adam's game playing and tells him that he is going to be a part of the Pioneer Project and he was going to kill Adam before this could happen. It tries to kill him but his dad saves him.

Adam starts asking his dad all of these questions about what is going on. His dad tells him there are other children that are dying and they are all going to be taken to the Nanotechnology Institute and tell them all that is going to happen and give them time to decide what they want to do.

There are six children all together with different diseases that are killing them, you have Adam, Shannon, Jenny, Marshall, Zia and DeShawn. Orignally there are more kids, but these are the only ones that decided with their families that they would be involved in the Pioneer Project. This means they have to let their memories be taken from their mind and put into a robo cop type machine and live that way. Obviously they have to let their real bodies die earlier than they planned.

And of course, the government are all up in this and train them into being machines that can destroy Sigma.

It's a great idea since they can live out their life unless of course they get killed in the line of duty, but sad as well because some of the parents don't accept them and it hurts them.

I wish I could see some pictures of what they look like as machines, especially when they are outside playing football :)

Ultimately, they destroy Sigma...or do they? Some get killed and others continue their lives in another location with a big football field they can play on.

The author stated at the end of the book that he didn't write this as a science fiction book, that this is a real thing and they are working on this to be a reality sometime in the next few decades etc. I probably won't be around to see that, but it's kinda neat!

**I would like to thank NETGALLEY and SOURCEBOOKS for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Mar at BOOKIVERSE .
328 reviews211 followers
October 5, 2020
4.6 mind warping stars!

Let's see... How much did I love this book????

There is a classified military project, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, hackers, realistic characters battling mental and terminal illnesses and disabilities ...


So… I loved it VERY MUCH! It's pretty wicked awesome!!!

The beginning is kinda slow while all the characters and their different illness and disabilities are introduced. But I was soon emotionally invested in the physical and emotional challenges of living with disabilities and terminal diseases, the isolation that comes with the loss not only of mobility and independence but also of relationships.

Many YA books usually take parents out the equation making the kids either orphans or making the parents absent or neglectful. I really liked that it wasn't the case here. I loved that Adam's dad was an important character in the story and the book showed how relationships are affected by terminal illness and disability and how Adam's parents were affected differently and had different ways to cope.

I loved, loved, loved Adam! He is funny, smart and caring. His struggle to have a joyful life despite his debilitating terminal disease and his patience and understanding with his mom's depression really touched me.

Then the action parts with the Artificial Intelligence [both human and not human] jumping back and forth from all kinds of robots and military devices like tanks, helicopters and nuclear weapons. And, the descriptions of the human consciousness being transferred from one device to another.... WOW. They just blew me away!!! At the end the author explains all the science behind it and it just awesome!

There were some mind boggling and emotional moments here, the kind that make you wonder: what makes us human? What makes is who we are? Is it our thoughts? Our memories? Mind? Body? All of the above? Is there a soul?

The end made me into a tragic display of tears! This novel is really something!
May 20, 2015
That was just stunning!

Another book that reads just like a movie!!

I swear it was like watching a movie!!!


Okay.. so I'm not the the biggest Sci-fi reader, but I do read AND WATCH Scifi. I'm telling you, this is awesome! Not only does it give you action, adventure and thrill... It will also make you think hard. It will make a person be clear about his/her ethical stand. It's as great as it is also a mind boggling book. :)

The characters are pretty unique if I may say so myself.

Have you ever imagined being so sick that all you can do is look on as life passes by? Naaaww, I don't think so.

Well.. some of our characters have. I sort of symphatized with each and every one of them.

You see, the main characters in this book are dying.

Yes people, they're dying...

And just like that line in TANGLED says.. "that's when people usually start to look for miracles".

In this case, they didn't find a magic golden flower though. They found an ultra advanced technology that will allow them to live on.. only in a wayyyy different state. They found more than what they bargained for and it's their choice whether to take it or not.

As I told you, there really is an ethical battle here. My stand? I'm all for living on, so I'm all good with the plot. :) I am in fact, fascinated with the story line.

Their main dilemma comes when that thing regarding dying is resolved. They have to do everything that they can to stop an AI from invading. I know it sounds cliche, but hear me out okay? It's different. The feel is different because for one, these are teens. There are parents involved and God knows with teens, there's a certain recklessness to them sometimes. It is damn fascinating (pardon me for being redundant, I just can't find another word for it!) and very, very exciting!

These teenagers face the battle head on and hope for the best. I love their spirit and I love how they value life itself. I guess that also happens when you're kind of give a second chance. A REAAAALLYYY BIG SECOND CHANCE!!! They each have their own set of traits. Personally, I am looking forward to the next book just to see how they will interact with one another after everything that happened to them in this book.

There are loopholes in this book, but I trust that the author will reveal everything in due time. It makes it more interesting though! :)

All in all, such a good book! I had a good time reading this!

perfect 5!

An ARC was provided to me by in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,306 reviews149 followers
March 19, 2020
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.

2.5 stars.

This was pretty disappointing. My first thought was that football is not the way to pull me into a sci-fi book. I get Adam fantasizing in the virtual world. It's an escape from a body that has many limits, but I think some sort of adventure game would have been a better choice for a book like this. Also, I usually really like sci-fi that includes artificial intelligence but this Sigma just did nothing for me. He wasn't all that sinister, which is what he was supposed to be, and he certainly wasn't witty or endearing in any way. He just fell flat.

In general the characters felt pretty shallow, with motivations that didn't ring true to me. There is the juvenile delinquent, ex-gang member, who realistically would never have been chosen for this experiment. None of her actions make sense to me. She's the kind of character that should have a problem with authority figures. When this green mohawk wearing, tattooed, pierced girl said she didn't like people staring at her, I was just done with her. Then there are the two girls that decide they have crushes on Adam, after they have all been turned into machines. Um, no thanks. That didn't make any sense at all. Then there is Adam's dad who claims to love his son, but leaves a whole lot of information out initially, about this whole program when explaining it to his son. And I just don't think I can get behind the fact that he is willing to do what it takes to turn his son into a machine in the first place. But the worst offender was the weak parent that is Adam's mom. The parents I know in real life that have children with disabilities, or that have died because of them, are some of the strongest people I know, and this woman in this book was very poorly thought out, just very poorly written all around.

There is also the trope of the military using these kids for their own ends, that has been used so much already. They turn these teenagers into robots in hopes of saving the world, and then at one point they have the audacity to be surprised that their machine is acting like a stubborn, sullen teenager? 😂

Ok, sorry, I probably shouldn't make fun of the book, but that was just too much. So yeah, I had lots of issues with this book, and needless to say I will not be reading the next book in the trilogy.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews567 followers
July 6, 2015
Finally - finally - I've found a YA scifi novel with plenty of boy appeal that's really well written with well-developed characters! I've picked up quite a few of this year's releases that looked promising, then failed to hold my interest or had ridiculous dialogue, descriptions, etc. Mark Alpert's The Six is exactly what I've been searching for!

I found the premise of The Six unique and engaging. The government has created an artificial intelligence that is extremely smart and adaptive. Underestimating the AI's intelligence and abilities, it is able to escape its cage. Now out in the real world, the AI, Sigma, is wreaking havoc - taking over entire countries and killing without mercy. The main character, Adam, is the son of the AI's main engineer. Adam and his father are quite close, as Adam's father is his main caretaker... Adam has muscular dystrophy; while is mind is incredibly sharp, his body is a prison. His future is rather bleak until the government offers him an unimaginable alternative: become a robot. So Adam and a group of five other teens with debilitating diseases undergo a risky new procedure that transfers their consciousnesses into the shells of weaponized robots. Their task? Defeat Sigma.

There are so many interesting ideas at play within The Six. One of the strongest is the question of what it means to be human. Adam's mother begs him not to undergo the procedure, arguing that he will no longer be human - will no longer be her son - if he is no longer connected to his body. Adam disagrees, believing that it is his thoughts and beliefs that make him who he is and that he won't be losing those things. After Adam undergoes the procedure, things become much more complicated when unforeseen consequences join the mix.

The villain, Sigma, is also interesting. After all, Sigma is an AI, created by humans and programmed to continually evolve. Sigma is doing exactly what it was created to do, but with consequences that hadn't been considered. Sigma sometimes feels incredibly evil, but can a computer truly be evil? Truly want to harm and hurt?

In addition to presenting readers with a number of engaging questions and ideas, The Six has plenty of action, engaging friendships, burgeoning romance, and dangerous rivalries. Alpert's YA offering hits all the right notes.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for J.D..
17 reviews
February 24, 2018
There’s no other word that I can use to describe this book other than unique. The main character, Adam, starts out as a human teenager suffering from muscular dystrophy and has less than 6 months to live, but that all changes. He’s inducted into a program called the “Pioneer Pronect” with five other teens who are all diagnosed with terminal illnesses. In the Pioneer Project these teens are all turned into robots, so the main character has become the same person, but now he’s a robot. Weird. But all in all it was a pretty good book. Not good enough to be an all-time favorite, but it was a good book all the same. I’m definitely going to end up reading the next two books, The Siege And The Silence, in the future.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 19 books180 followers
August 2, 2015
I'm probably not the best judge, but I think this is the best book I've ever written!
Profile Image for Rhoda  Crowell.
144 reviews8 followers
July 14, 2017
Two questions…
1. If you were terminally ill but were given the chance to live forever as a robot – would you take it?
2. What if we developed a super computer programed to learn from their mistakes who decided humans were expendable?

Both of these premises come together in Mark Alpert’s thrilling novel, “The Six”. Adam and five other teenagers are given the opportunity to cheat death by having their brain functions transferred into an android. The kids and their families have a massive decision to make. Will they lose their personality? What part of us truly makes us human?

Adam’s father is also the computer expert who had developed the super computer who learns from its mistakes. Ahh, if only us human’s would too… The computer deducts that humans; infallible and emotional creatures that we are, can shut it down permanently. The computer’s self-preservation tells it that it needs to eliminate us as a potential risk. Thus we become its prime target. The government, who has funded both products, sees the teens as an unknown equation for the computer. Perhaps they are the only way to save humanity from the super-computer we’ve created.

I was intrigued by both plot scenarios and how the author was able to meld them into a thought-provoking, high-action story. The reader is kept on the edge of their seats as the teenagers struggle to adapt to their new forms and their mission. The teens acted like teens, sometimes rebellious, sometimes cooperative, and never predictable. The computer scenario reminded me of an updated version of the 1980’s hit movie called “WarGames”. I can tell that the author, Mark Alpert, who is the editor for “Scientific American” has done his homework! This is a great book I could easily recommend to anyone from middle school to adult. The story had a satisfying conclusion but left the door open for future adventures. I can’t wait to see if there are sequels!

FULL DISCLOSURE: copy obtained through Sourcebook publishing.
Profile Image for Emani.
87 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2015
I received The Six from the Goodreads First Reads Program. What a fantastic read! It was very well researched. It is the story of six terminally ill teenagers. Adam, the main character, suffers with muscular dystrophy. He and the other five are given the opportunity to go on living in the circuits of technologically advanced robots created by Adam's father. There's just one catch... they must defeat an Artificial Intelligence that is out to destroy the human race.

I read the entire book in one sitting. It is filled with suspense and action. However, I found myself more interested in the six teenagers responses to their transitions. While they continued to live on in the circuits of the Pioneers, I felt a deep sadness in all that they lost. Despite their unusual circumstances and differing backgrounds, they managed to come together, and their desire to survive remained just as strong in their robot forms as it was in their human bodies. That same desire was present in the AI as well. It was a little scary to see the AI acquire some of our human emotions.

I enjoyed the book, and I am hoping there is a sequel.
Profile Image for Denise.
383 reviews3 followers
June 16, 2015
Thank you, Netgalley for providing this ARC. And, thank you to Sourcebooks for allowing me to access it.

Aaron's dad uses scientific theory to save his son and others who are suffering from diseases that threaten to take their lives. But at what cost? You'll have to read THE SIX to find out more, but don't worry, it is definitely worth reading. This novel, with all its' twist and turns is science fiction at its' best.
9 reviews
August 20, 2015
I loved this book! Packed with action and adventure, teens that are physically disabled are taken and turned into robots to fight a computer virus. First of many books, this book is great for people of all ages and people that love fast paced books.
Profile Image for P.M..
1,218 reviews
August 27, 2015
This was one of those "I don't want to put it down" books. Adam was a great character with all of his foibles. The scene where he stands vigil over his dead body was well written. Loved it! Can't wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for Jean Johnson.
36 reviews4 followers
January 2, 2015
A series of cliffhangers that you didn't see coming. This sci fi thriller is SO GOOD!!!
Profile Image for Nicole M. Hewitt.
1,412 reviews283 followers
July 8, 2015
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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.***
Profile Image for Ruthsic.
1,763 reviews12 followers
July 4, 2015
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.

This tale of teens transcending from their organic bodies to silicon ones, while sounding very outlandish in the blurb, is very realistic in it's execution. On a sci-fi level, this one might be more closer to fact than fiction. As Alpert explains in the end of the book, neuromorphic circuits are currently in development, while brain mapping is a thing. What's more, is, recently, scientists have developed a way to map more efficiently - using a net-like fiber to encase and map brains - okay, that has been done in mice so far, but human application is not far, I tell you. So, from a scientific standpoint, this one wins 5 stars - even though the concept of downloading a brain into a circuit may seem impossible in theory.

At first, I didn't like Adam when he was introduced - it seemed he was a regular sports-obsessed guy, and let's not even get me started on that creepy virtualization of his best friends. Actually, he doesn't seem so interesting as a character, but his story is. See, he and these five other kids? They are going to die - so they enroll in an experimental program that downloads their genius-level brains into circuits. On a non-scientific level, you could say their souls were being liberated from their earthly shells and freed to occupy any neuromorphic circuit. At first, the experience is very jarring for them - because if they don't have human bodies, are they really human? If they can't breathe, eat, or perform biological activities, are they still human? It brought to me that famous line - I think, therefore I am. But this isn't enough for other people, who think they are just intelligent machines - like Adam's mother for example. She refuses to believe it's her son in there, and he doubts it too. Because he is basically a copy of Adam, not the real person. It's a very interesting concept put forth. Similarly, the AI Sigma is also debating how to classify them, since they are human-machine hybrids.

While this book is quite good, it isn't flawless. Sigma was boring as a villain, even when it was kicking every country's ass. I honestly don't get it's actions - for an intelligent AI, it waited too long to do anything. Look, I am no genius, but keeping the humans alive for their technology stretched the limits of my belief a little too much. On a character standpoint, as development goes, this book didn't really go into it. Jenny was one-dimensional - her role being the third angle in the love triangle, and to further development of the protagonists. In fact, most of them are limited to one-line descriptions, while lines were wasted on Adam's inability to laugh. *eyeroll* In summary, a pretty good book, and eager for the sequel.

Received a free ARC from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley; this does not influence my opinions or review.
Profile Image for Dylan.
10 reviews
January 18, 2023
This book about robots was one of the greatest books I have ever read!!!
Profile Image for Katy.
115 reviews2 followers
April 6, 2015
The Six by Mark Alpert
In the not too distant future six teens, each with a fatal illness, have chosen to leave their decaying bodies to transfer their “memories and personalities” to Pioneer robots, eight-hundred pounds of metal and neuromorphic electronic circuitry. Leaving their human shells behind is only the beginning for these adventurers. At first, there is pain and anger at losing their human form. Then, the fear takes over; fear of losing their memories, their humanity or of simply disappearing. Now they must learn to harness the technology at the tips of their synapse, as well as, coming to grips with the power and strength given their robotic forms. This second chance at life comes with a very high price. The Six must confront Sigma and all costs stop it. A highly developed, Artificial Intelligence, Sigma has escaped human control and is out to rid the world of its greatest nemesis, humans.
Adam, Jenny, Zia, Shannon, Marshall and DeShawn each with their own distinct personality demonstrates you can still be unique even when you are housed in identical forms. But, maybe one of the most difficult tasks for these teens will be learning to work as a team, caring about each other, fighting together and just plain getting along. Highly intelligent, each of these teens was chosen for the Pioneer Project because they are dying. Adam is a geek, who has spent years writing computer games, Zia, has street smarts and is tough as nails, Jenny, is a debutante who had everything, Shannon, a classmate of Adam’s is a wiz at math, Marshall, never let his deformity label him, and DeShawn, has a wicked sense of humor. Full of adventure, heart-ache and intriguing scientific facts, it is a roller coaster ride of emotions, a rousing battle for control of the Earth with teens who will face losses, death and decisions many adults couldn’t handle. And while they don’t come away unscathed, they command respect for who they are and how they handle what life throws at them. The final pages will have you searching the skies, or at least the Internet, for the next installment to hit the streets.
Mark Alpert takes us into our scientific future and begs the question can we hang on to our humanity, compassion, knowledge and understanding of others if we no longer hold a physical human form. Can we handle being given great strength and almost unlimited power to control the world around us? I had a hard time putting “The Six” down, even though at times I was slowed down a bit by where Mark Alpert was going with his scientific knowledge. I could hear the teen’s voices clearly in the characters, right down to the misbehavior antics and lack of emotional control at times. The commander was a bit stereotypical of a military leader, ‘my way or the highway’, but it fit in with the storyline. There was plenty of high adventure, strife, just a hint of romance and there was enough battle action to make me feel like I was watching a World War II movie. My one concern was in the handling of several captured prisoners, in my opinion, a little too realistic for Teen Literature and would be better suited for a slightly older audience.
Profile Image for LJ.
23 reviews
December 21, 2015
I noticed The Six by Mark Alpert ever since it hit the shelves at Barnes and Noble. However, my copy is an ARC from Netgalley , and my review is purely unbiased even if I received mine for free.

This is my first book from the author and I did not know what to expect. I was hoping that I will not have to struggle and muscle through this read. I am pleased to say that this book is an easy 4 out of 5 stars and I fully recommend this to any Sci Fi lover. Allow me to tell you why...

Let's start with the protagonist, Adam Armstrong.

Adam is a smart teenage boy with a weird sense of humor. He lived a normal life -- played football with his best friends, hosted Super Bowl parties, a big fan of the New York Giants and Kanye West, and programs virtual reality games -- until his illness (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) crept upon him leaving him with weak neck muscles, useless thighs, no movement to the left arm, and "an ok" right arm.

He is dying.

Because of Adam's condition, his mother is neck deep with depression. She barely takes care of herself and the family. His father, Thomas Armstrong, is the one who takes care of Adam. He is a genius that works for Unicorp; a company that is basically government funded to create stuff that is beneficial to them. Did I mention that Adam's dad is the creator of the Artificial Intelligence called Sigma?

"My name is Sigma. This message is a warning to all government leaders and military commanders.

I have the power to annihilate you.

If you attack me or interfere with my plans in any way, I will exterminate the human race."

BAM! I read those few lines and I felt my pulse quicken. Sigma, the Artificial Intelligence created by Adam's dad, is making threats to the government and military?


But wait a minute. Who's going to stop Sigma from taking over bases that control the nukes? Who's going to stop him from erasing the human population from the face of the Earth?

All I've got to say is that the author did not disappoint. The book is fast paced and action packed. This is an I-have-to-know-what-happens-next type of read. I flipped through the pages wanting to know more without being overwhelmed by too much action. Most of the characters are well developed which allowed me to feel attached to them. The author also did a great job researching government machineries which helped me understand and visualize what was going on.


6 reviews
July 12, 2015
If you love science, hate science, or don't care either way pick up this book!

I loved this book. I received this book through one of Good Reads promotions and was very excited to read it. The idea was intriguing. I was curious to see how the author would pull off first a boy with a terminal disease and then the transition of him into an AI. Many times when I read a book there is at least one time where I get pulled out of the story because the main character does something that just seems, well, uncharacteristic but that is not the case here. Adam comes across as a sick kid whose body is failing but his spirit is still strong. He still has pain and frustration but you don't feel utter pity for him. I was rooting for this kid the whole time but not feeling bad for him. You feel the frustration at his disease but he is strong and determined. Later when he transfers into the AI there are little changes that stand out over and over again that make the robot familiar and yet just alien enough. He talks about his circuits and files like it is a normal fact of life which it is for him. Just when you start to think of him as a human again he gently reminds you that he is not. I thought that was very clever. He doesn't always make the right decisions but they follow his thoughts and choices from earlier. I can believe he would make these choices even if they are not the right ones.

I love writers who are not afraid of science but also realize not everyone is a neurologist or physicist. The science in this book is riveting and sent me on a quest to learn as much as I could about the future of AI's since, like most, my education has revolved a great deal around the Terminator saga and Skynet. Not a pretty future. Sigma's does not paint a pretty future either but that is ok because there are The Six. I won't spoil anything with my review but they are a great rag tag group of kids. Their situations sucked but they over come and I must say I love DeShawn! That boy has a zest for life I need to adopt. They each accept their transition differently but ultimately embrace it if not each other. The character development is outstanding especially for a YA novel.

This is my first book for Mark Alpert that I have read but it will not be the last. The hardest part is going to be waiting for the sequel.
Profile Image for Amy Rogers.
Author 4 books88 followers
June 23, 2015
ScienceThrillers.com review:

After four adult science thrillers, novelist and science journalist Mark Alpert branches out into young adult / teen scientific fiction with The Six.

We can be very glad that he did. The Six is Alpert's best book to date--and I'm not even a big fan of YA.

The publisher's summary does a good job of introducing the plot. What it fails to do is convey how well-constructed this story is, how totally engaging is the teen protagonist. Adam's fatal condition transforms boring normal teen drama (school, friends, dating, parents) into something more poignant. He is a complex, relatable, interesting person whose expectations of his own future are upended by a risky choice to transfer his mind into a robot.

The mental and emotional challenges that follow the creation of the six "Pioneers" feel supremely realistic. Building a team takes on dangerous urgency when Sigma, the evil AI (artificial intelligence), steps up its timetable for destroying the human race. Tension grows with conflicts among the Pioneers, who are just a bunch of teenagers, and their military handlers.

In addition to a nearly flawless thriller plot, what makes The Six so good is the way Alpert has fully realized his character Adam. Adam is a believable hero from the start. His choices, his actions, and his fears ring true even in the strange, imagined realm of being a disembodied mind. Here, Alpert has done a great job of world-building, of creating the ground rules for how the Pioneers will operate, what their skills and limitations are. The reader is immersed in the "reality" of Adam's new state, and connects with the teen's feelings, including the horror that confronts him late in the story...

As a reviewer, I read many books because I have to. Once I got started with The Six, I devoured it because I wanted to. The Six is a blockbuster of YA science fiction, imaginative and totally immersive. Teen and adult readers will be clamoring for a sequel.

If you like I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies by Pitticus Lore), you'll love The Six.

FCC disclaimer: An advance reader copy of this book was given to me for review. As always, I made no guarantee that I would read the book or post a positive review.
18 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2015
What I liked about it
This is a well-paced and fun action-oriented sci-fi novel. The author colors the story with some welcome and well-considered detail about the main character's disease and the technology that releases him from it. The story also raises questions about what it means to be human, an increasingly important question at a time when we depend more and more upon computers and artificial intelligence. While it might not be the most original treatment of the theme, it adds some nice depth to the story.

The Electronic World
Though there is plenty of physical action, many scenes in the book take place in the virtual world of the characters' electronic minds. This sort of setting, it seems to me, has always been a challenge for authors. How do you show the workings of a mind (feelings, memories, etc) and your disembodied character interacting with it?. In this book, the electronic mind is like a vast animated Windows Explorer, where all information is encapsulated in files that can be read or watched, moved around, deleted, and sometimes whirl about like a storm to show distress. To be honest (and speaking for myself) this doesn't feel very much like how a mind works, but I'll give the author credit with coming up with a consistent model that actually becomes important to the story.

But sometimes the attempts to overlay feeling and action onto digital space becomes a bit awkward: "a shudder ran through my circuits". In another instance, two AI's clash and (paraphrasing) "data was hurled everywhere". Sorry, but data does not go splat!

Some YA Tropes
The crazy mother. Why always the mother? If she's not crazy, she's dead. Also, the punk chick with lots of 'tude. Really, does anyone sport a Mohawk anymore?

Purchased at Google Play books

29 reviews
May 6, 2015
For me this was a fascinating read. I am not of the technological generation so do not view machines/robots as ever possibly being able to be ‘humanised’ to the extent they are in The Six (much like Adam’s mother I suppose). However, this novel, despite raising many moral issues, has forced me to re think.

IN SHORT - Adam and his friends become the ‘missing links’ in robot evolution when their ‘intelligences’ are transferred to the minds of robots. However, their humanness is their flaw.

LIKES -To be honest I found the bond between father and disabled son a very touching and powerful theme, and the empathy that the author forces the reader to have with all the disabled/sick children before their ‘change’, clever and sympathetically achieved.

DISLIKES – Once the children become Pioneers their behaviour is that of normal teenagers (they become the kids that their human bodies had denied them). I think I had hoped that these hybrid machines who, after all, the world was relying on, would at least have some kind of super intelligence/self –control. I also did not enjoy the inclusion of ‘crush’ scenes. Though the scenes were necessary for the plot, the characters weren’t rounded enough nor the relationships clear. This was the point where I had to question what had been a nearly believable story.

OVERALL – For me it was an entertaining an original idea that made me think. At times it reminded me of various popular films but it also took the AI themes one step further. It has enough intrigue, action and adventure to keep the reader wanting more. Though it is an entertaining read for all, this would be an excellent book to get teen boys reading for pleasure.
Profile Image for Sarah Monsma.
164 reviews5 followers
June 3, 2015
Adam is dying slowly and painfully from muscular dystrophy. His dad would do anything to save him, but for now all he can manage is to keep him supplied with virtual reality games that help him feel like he can still move even though he’s confined to a wheelchair and rapidly losing motor function. One day through his game Adam encounters a serious virtual enemy. The problem is, that enemy is virtual, but also very real–so real that it’s threatening the human race. Soon, the government hatches a plan to use a group of dying teenagers, including Adam, to fight this artificially intelligent enemy. The doctors say they’re all about to lose their lives anyway. But in order to join the fight and save humanity, they’ll have to abandon their ailing bodies for good.

This is a gripping story full of fascinating questions. Could a computer equipped with artificial intelligence take over the world? How would we fight it? If your body fails but your mind remains, do you still exist? Would you make the choice to live in a robotic body if the alternative was dying?

Teen (and adult) readers will love this book. It’s not just a fast-paced, exciting story, but an invitation to explore existential and ethical questions. Readers will consider whether a person can exist within a robotic body. Could the soul live without the body? They’ll consider the ethics of artificial intelligence. Do we have the right to develop programs that are extremely powerful and that evolve? It’s a dream and a whole passel of nightmares rolled into one.

I read The Six as an electronic ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley. Release is scheduled for July 1, 2015.
Profile Image for Trisha.
845 reviews11 followers
June 16, 2015
This is one of the most amazing Artificial Intelligence (AI) books for young adults I have read in a long time. It had me hooked all the way through, this book was just new and refreshing (and it is no secret I just love AI, gamer, techy books), but this book is different and special in its own way, not to mention it is build on facts, so slightly scary too.

Adam is a seventeen year old bot, and he is dying, quickly, within the next six months. Adam's dad, Thomas, like most dads will do anything to save his son, but really how far will that extend? Thomas works for Unicorp in the AI division, Unicorp is under contract with the Department of Defense (DoD). Currently Thomas is working on the Pioneer Project, a very secret project for the DoD. Before Adam dies he and five other terminally ill teens are recruited by the DoD for the Pioneer Project were their minds will be transferred, persevered, and put to use in robots (or any other machine or computer) with special neuromorphic control units attached. But will they be up and running in enough time to stop Sigma a AI that Adam's dad created, and has managed to get loose on the internet and has proclaimed world domination? Or will Sigma be able to trap all the pioneers and delete all their files from existence? There is so much more to this book than I could ever put in this synopsis or is I did, why would you read the book? Just know that this book is much bigger on the inside than it looks. It truly is amazing this whole AI world is, but this one just might rock your satellites a bit.
Profile Image for Annette.
900 reviews14 followers
July 16, 2015
THE SIX by Mark Alpert is a heart-pounding near-future thriller exploring artificial intelligence, digital preservation, and what it means to be human.

Adam’s body is withering away from the effects of muscular dystrophy. Along with five other terminally ill teens, Adam undergoes an operation that allows his brain to be merged with a computer to produce the first human-machine hybrids. Since the army controls the technology, The Six pioneers are obligated to work with the military on a top secret mission to destroy a rouge artificial intelligence known as Sigma who is about the exterminate human life on earth. The conclusion sets up the premise for a new series that’s likely to be popular with YA science fiction fans.

Alpert’s fast-paced plot, engaging writing style, and attention to scientific detail will be a draw for many young science and science fiction fans. Librarians will find this adventure-suspense equally popular among both male and female teens. Use this book to inspire youth to go back and read the works of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and others. Also tie this work of science fiction with nonfiction books related to artificial intelligence, robotics, genetics, and physics. The many thought-provoking issues addressed in the text make it a good choice for book club discussions.

Librarians need to be prepared for questions about when the next book in this series will be available. It’s sure to be a YA hit.

To learn more about the author, go to http://www.markalpert.com/.

Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 7, 2015.
Profile Image for Cynthia (Bingeing On Books).
1,626 reviews118 followers
August 22, 2015
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my review.

First of all, the main reason I wanted this book was because it had a character suffering from muscular dystrophy. How often do you see that? Also, I actually suffer from a form of muscular dystrophy. Luckily, my type is not fatal. Reading this book terrified me, mainly because it is something that could really happen. Technology is advancing so much and there is a very real possibility that its intelligence could surpass that of humans. In this book, technology also makes it possible for Adam's dad to transfer his brain into that of a machine. This brings up an ethical question: if it is his brain and memories, but not his body, is it really him? This book did have a few parts that were too scientific for me, but other than that, I loved it! So much action and drama and emotion. And there was even some romance (yes, romance!) between robots. It was kind of cool. I didn't even really mind the love triangle thing, for once. I freaking loved the action scenes where they are trying to save the human race AS ROBOTS! So weird. It did end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but no word on a sequel yet. I am hoping for one!

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Teresa Bateman.
Author 37 books52 followers
May 5, 2015
This book is not due out until July, 2015, but I got an advanced reader copy. (Thank you, Sourcebooks!) An artificial intelligence has been created and it is now dispassionately set on destroying its enemy--humans. How can you fight it? They tried isolating Sigma, but that's only a stopgap. Instead the military goes with the Pioneer project--six teens with terminal diseases have their consciousnesses transferred into robots, and have the ability to continue to transfer to other robotic devices like helicopters and tanks and drones. Adam was dying of muscular dystrophy, and it was really for him that his father devised the Pioneer program. Now it may be the only way to save the world. Sigma is aware of the program's existence, however, and of Adam's place in it. Everyone that Adam loves is in danger, and Sigma is determined to find out more about the human emotions that may be their strength...or their downfall. This is clearly the first book in a series and its intriguing premise, as well as a plethora of action, will draw an audience, especially of boys. I think "Michael Vey" fans would jump at a chance to read this.
Profile Image for Melissa Diaz Lopez.
23 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2015
I received a review copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest opinion.

The story starts with Adam Armstrong, a young teenage boy with a knack for technology that suffers from Muscular Dystrophy. His father is looking into a way to preserve his son's life with the use of neuroscience and technology.

From the beginning the story captivated me with the scientific facts and the human side to it. The way it touches sensitive topics like the thin line between God and technology.

The characters are just fun and likeable, smart and ingenious. I liked every single one of them. The story is fast-paced and unique. I love the way Mark Alpert wrote every single chapter and it never got boring. The ending left me wanting more of this spectacular action packed joyride. I hope the second part comes out soon.

I recommend this book to anyone that likes an exciting story, with great characters and a perfect mix of science and fiction.

All in all, this is an amazing novel, with an original story and a realistic look at science and fiction. Be sure to check it out as soon as it comes out!
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