First Of Their Kind – Book Review

“Maybe you’ll solve humanity’s greatest secrets. Maybe you’ll guide us to the stars and beyond. Maybe you’ll simply be our friend. You are the start of something we can’t begin to understand.”

I’ve been waiting FOREVER for a book like this to crop up. I love anything science-y or AI based, and First Of Their Kind delivered on so many levels. A solid story through and through, this one has definitely been an honour to read. I’m excited to share my review with you all!

First Of Our Kind by C. D. Tavenor is Book One in the Chronicles of Theren series. It explores the incredible and mind-blowing theme of synthetic intelligence. Dr. Wallace, an extraordinary scientist, along with his team have managed to create an artificial mind capable of conscious thought and emotion (forty-third time lucky). With a lot to consider and the possibility of losing it all, the Dr must take care of Test Forty-Three if it is to survive the harsh realities of the outside world…or the SI world.

The beginning.

I really liked the start of this book! I thought it had a really strong opening. It begins in a lab – however, it’s clear that this is not your usual scientific laboratory… Something out of the ordinary is being created here. Test Forty-Three really had my head in a spin at first as I thought of the mountains of different possibilities, but it soon became clear that it was some sort of intelligent machine – a machine that seemed as real as you or me. I mean, why not? It’s scary thinking about the way technology is evolving these days and that in fact, we might be able to create something this complex in the real world sooner than we think. It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it!

With a name like Test Forty-Three, it’s clear that there had been many attempts before this to create the perfect machine; a machine that could think and speak for itself. Even so early on in the book, there was a big build up for the announcement of Test Forty-Three to the world. It’s an exciting time for us as readers too. I found myself wondering how I would react if one day, I was sat watching the news, only to see the announcement of a machine so complex, something with its own deeply developed thoughts and something that could change the future of humanity forever.

The story is clearly set in the future. C. D. Tavenor has included hints, such as the way people watch Dr Wallace’s broadcast (Augmented Reality) and, of course, with the nature of the book being so futuristic, and focusing on synthetic intelligence and science. (Well, that and the odd date signifying it is in fact, the year 2050.) It’s written from the perspective of the SI machine – we learn about the world as it sees it, which is a great way to read through the book. It’s easy to get attached to this ‘character’. It reminded me a little of the show Maniac, a Netflix original series if I remember rightly. (Yep, I loved that too!) I’d definitely recommend seeing it if you haven’t already.

“You are beautiful. Wonderful. Magnificent. Something this world does not deserve, yet desperately needs.”

As we delve into the story, the SI machine, now known as Theren, seems to be getting to grips with more human-like things. For example, they realised that they should have a name and a pronoun that suited them. Theren decides to use “they” as a pronoun. (Which I am frantically trying to remember through this review, and failing!) I understand the reason why this topic was included in the story and why it is needed here, but I felt reading the word “they” was rather confusing in parts. I kept thinking “they” referred to a group of people, and I sometimes got confused as to who was speaking in different scenes. It was something I had to get used to pretty quickly, or risk losing my understanding of what was going on.

There was a certain part of the story really early on that was a little heartbreaking, and the reason I found it that way was because I was quickly really attached to Theren as a character. Dr Wallace had created Theren, and I really felt like there was some sort of “father-son” type bond between this man and his machine. I’m not going to spoil the book, but damn – it really hits you hard! The incident forces Theren to step up and follow in Dr Wallace’s footsteps with more authority. Is giving a machine of synthetic intelligence more authority a good thing, or bad? How will the public react? The middle of the story was what I was dying to get to the most!

The middle.

As research expands and the project gets bigger than the team ever imagined, we bring in a newly created character. Something that can be a friend to Theren and prove to the public that in fact, these machines will be a positive addition to humanity, not a negative. I feel I learnt an awful lot about technology within the middle of the story. It seems as though the author of this book is passionate about sharing his complex story and teaching us the science behind it.

Despite the brilliantly descriptive paragraphs and plot, I feel like we do go through the motions quite quickly. There were parts of the book that I really wanted to know more about. For example, the sentence, “The team flew through the next few days” and, “Three days after the creation” when they created a successful new SI machine – what happened during those days? I felt like I wanted more information about the birth of this new character; it’s a really exciting time! It kind of ended up being something I built up in my mind instead. We were simply told what Theren and this new machine did instead of being allowed to experience this. However, this might just be me and my greediness – my thirst to know more about this character so early on! I think making a reader feel this way could definitely be a positive too, in a way.

The relationship between Theren and Test Forty-Four, (who now names herself, Jill) is a beautiful thing to experience. They teach her about the virtual world and how, together, they can make the world a better place for all. It’s clear that some of the other humans outside of their projects don’t agree with what they’re doing, but they’re working together and building each other up to prove that SI is a good and beneficial idea. C. D. Tavenor has created two very different characters here, but two which share a lot of the same traits. They’re both very strong and interesting characters, who really make the story memorable – probably more so than if they were human!

“Why are people questioning whether Theren has a soul, when they haven’t even proven that humans have a soul?”

The Virtual world is a great idea. I loved the fact characters of the story could come in and out of this area as they pleased and how they experienced different things than they would in the real world. I enjoyed reading about Theren and Jill’s conversations; how they taught each other different things that, in time, could either make or break a future for their kind. It’s clear that together, they will make a great impact for the ending of the story and for the world. All it comes down to now is whether or not they can convince everyone else that they can make the world a greater place…

The end.

It’s nice to see Theren and Jill’s relationship blossom towards the end of the story. Jill has been my favourite character throughout the book by far; witty, but also very clever – things she has learnt from the many papers she has read and the many lessons she’s had from Theren.

Things start getting serious. The Jump Drive is well on its way, giving the possibility of space travel, people are blaming terrorism for attacks while others are blaming synthetic intelligence, and Theren and Jill are being followed and investigated in secret. It’s exciting to see where their story leads and if people will warm to the idea of their existence.

Theren learns a lot about the people around them, but they also experience many human emotions; betrayal and loss, happiness and sadness. I feel like we see Theren grow as a character, especially after he experiences a brutal attack to his external shell. It’s clear how much the people close to Theren cares for them, even if they are simply a machine.

“Time is important in any healing process, no matter how minor the bruise.”

I loved the ending of this book – it tugged on every emotion and was truly spectacular. It was terrifying and exciting…but no spoilers! I’m really looking forward to reading the second part of the Chronicles of Theren series, the future of the planet and what humanity will become… Their Greatest Game is released summer 2019!

Overall thoughts.

It’s clear that C. D. Tavenor has a deep understanding and a burning passion for science and philosophy – the book was very descriptive and detailed in these areas. Not only does this help and educate the reader, but it also makes us so enthralled and keeps us interested. It was almost impossible to just read a page or two. I think this was why I managed to read through it so quickly!

This book exceeded a lot of my expectations and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I’d definitely recommend this one to anyone with an interest in science and artificial/synthetic intelligence. It will definitely teach you a thing or two. If this is not your kind of thing, maybe it will be after reading this great novel.

A huge thank you for delighting me with your book, C. D. Tavenor – I’m excited to read the next book in the series! You can purchase your own copy of First Of Their Kind from Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. 📚 You can follow C. D. Tavenor over on Twitter for updates.

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