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The Preserve

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The critically acclaimed author of the “bold, innovating, and thrilling” (Stephen King) novel The Twenty-Year Death and the “brilliant” (Booklist, starred review) novel Barren Cove returns with a dark and compelling mystery set in the near future. Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the rul The critically acclaimed author of the “bold, innovating, and thrilling” (Stephen King) novel The Twenty-Year Death and the “brilliant” (Booklist, starred review) novel Barren Cove returns with a dark and compelling mystery set in the near future. Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered. Chief of Police Jesse Laughton on the SoCar Preserve is assigned to the case. He fears the factions that were opposed to the preserves will use the crime as evidence that the new system does not work. As he digs for information, robots in the outside world start turning up dead from bad drug-like programs that may have originated on SoCar land. And when Laughton learns his murder victim was a hacker who wrote drug-programs, it appears that the two cases might be linked. Soon, it’s clear that the entire preserve system is in danger of collapsing. Laughton’s former partner, a robot named Kir, arrives to assist on the case, and they soon uncover shocking secrets revealing that life on the preserve is not as peaceful as its human residents claim. But in order to protect humanity’s new way of life, Laughton must solve this murder before it’s too late. The Preserve is a fresh and futuristic mystery that is perfect for fans of Westworld and Blade Runner.


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The critically acclaimed author of the “bold, innovating, and thrilling” (Stephen King) novel The Twenty-Year Death and the “brilliant” (Booklist, starred review) novel Barren Cove returns with a dark and compelling mystery set in the near future. Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the rul The critically acclaimed author of the “bold, innovating, and thrilling” (Stephen King) novel The Twenty-Year Death and the “brilliant” (Booklist, starred review) novel Barren Cove returns with a dark and compelling mystery set in the near future. Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered. Chief of Police Jesse Laughton on the SoCar Preserve is assigned to the case. He fears the factions that were opposed to the preserves will use the crime as evidence that the new system does not work. As he digs for information, robots in the outside world start turning up dead from bad drug-like programs that may have originated on SoCar land. And when Laughton learns his murder victim was a hacker who wrote drug-programs, it appears that the two cases might be linked. Soon, it’s clear that the entire preserve system is in danger of collapsing. Laughton’s former partner, a robot named Kir, arrives to assist on the case, and they soon uncover shocking secrets revealing that life on the preserve is not as peaceful as its human residents claim. But in order to protect humanity’s new way of life, Laughton must solve this murder before it’s too late. The Preserve is a fresh and futuristic mystery that is perfect for fans of Westworld and Blade Runner.

30 review for The Preserve

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Imagine a dystopian world where a plague has wiped out most of the human population. Humankind is now a minority ruled by AI complex robots. Given the chance to live without robot interference, the indigenous population can choose to live on a preserve. Police Chief Jesse Laughton had been the only human in the major crime division of the Baltimore PD. He was "famous for reading lies on people's faces that robotic facial recognition software could never match...". Chief Laughton chose to move wi Imagine a dystopian world where a plague has wiped out most of the human population. Humankind is now a minority ruled by AI complex robots. Given the chance to live without robot interference, the indigenous population can choose to live on a preserve. Police Chief Jesse Laughton had been the only human in the major crime division of the Baltimore PD. He was "famous for reading lies on people's faces that robotic facial recognition software could never match...". Chief Laughton chose to move with wife, Betty and eight year old daughter, Erica to the SoCar Preserve in a town called Liberty. The Preserve was just outside Charleston, South Carolina. Betty Laughton had high hopes that the Preserve would renew human society. She pioneered the Liberty Young Primary School, intended to educate children and provide the children with socialization among their peers while the Fertility Clinic was part of a repopulation initiative aimed at creating genetic diversity. The Preserve was an experiment. "Most humans had no way of earning money, relying on government subsidies. The occupants were meant to run subsistence farms...to just survive as a segregated population. Many towns were ghost towns with no electric lights. "Porch furniture waited loyally for sitters that would never come". The SoCar Preserve was on shaky ground. Anti-preserve groups looked for excuses to declare this nine month old experiment a failure. A dead body discovered near a dumpster behind the market was the first murder to occur on the Preserve. The victim was found to have "wounds revealing metal bones encased in simul-skin..."...a cyborg. The victim, Carl Smythe, was a hacker who wrote sims. [Sims were plug and play memory sticks distributed on the black market]. The plot thickens, five robocides...same red memory stick, apparent victims of a killer app that fried their operating systems. Chief Laughton along with former Baltimore robot partner, Kir, reunite, teaming up to solve the seemingly related crimes. Human and robot were close friends who had worked in tandem for almost two decades. Questioning Smythe's associates proved to be challenging. Discomfort at seeing Kir, a robot, on Preserve territory was palpable. The top brass were antsy. If the murders were not solved ASAP, "... this [would be] as an excuse to post robots on the preserve as peacekeepers...[the Preserve] will be an open-air prison...". In view of the world-wide pandemic and the resultant lockdowns, this futuristic, machine-ruled dystopic mystery seems timely. The friendship between Jesse Laughton and Kir was refreshing, mutually respectful and caring. Despite being a robot, Kir, having spent years working with Laughton, had developed understanding and compassion. "The Preserve" by Ariel S. Winter was an enjoyable read, however, Laughton's character was void of exuberance, always sleepless and dispirited. Kir, on the other hand, was awesome. I highly recommend this work of science fiction. Thank you Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    An intriguing blend of sci-fi and a police procedural. The world has been decimated by plague. Humans and robots live in tandem. The robot population has surpassed that of the humans. In order to “preserve“ the human race The Preserve is created. A segregated part of the country where NO robots are allowed and humans attempt to revitalize their numbers. However, the Preserve is not thriving dependent on government subsidies. When a high profile murder takes place within the boundaries of the Pre An intriguing blend of sci-fi and a police procedural. The world has been decimated by plague. Humans and robots live in tandem. The robot population has surpassed that of the humans. In order to “preserve“ the human race The Preserve is created. A segregated part of the country where NO robots are allowed and humans attempt to revitalize their numbers. However, the Preserve is not thriving dependent on government subsidies. When a high profile murder takes place within the boundaries of the Preserve it’s very existence is threatened. It is up to chief Jesse Lawton to save the Preserve. This was and engaging story that was a little out of my comfort zone. I am not a big sci-fi fan and I am usually pretty picky when it comes to police procedurals. This book really grabbed my attention from the beginning I was so curious about what was going on and who the murderer was. Chief Laughton was an interesting character, but I really thought his robot partner Kri stole the show. I loved the dynamic between these two and it really made me curious as to how this world came to be. That really is my major complaint about the story... there wasn’t much backstory. I really wanted to learn more about the AI and how the robots came to be so superior. The police procedural part of the story was great and I really love the twist and reveal of the mystery. I’m hoping this will be a series because I think Jesse Lawton could really grow as a character. *** Big thank you to Atria for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    Well, we knew it was coming. In the future, the human race has been decimated by a plague and we are now controlled by robots. The robots are in power, control the government, and—in a move designed to appease the human population which is now a minority—the government set up areas where humans can live without robots present. Calling it “The Preserve” they afford humans noninterference by robots, an idyllic situation until a human is murdered. This crime sets Chief of Police, Jesse Laughton, and Well, we knew it was coming. In the future, the human race has been decimated by a plague and we are now controlled by robots. The robots are in power, control the government, and—in a move designed to appease the human population which is now a minority—the government set up areas where humans can live without robots present. Calling it “The Preserve” they afford humans noninterference by robots, an idyllic situation until a human is murdered. This crime sets Chief of Police, Jesse Laughton, and his former robot partner, Kir, off to find the killer—be they human or robot. However, robots are dying due to a bad drug program. Laughton learns that the dead human was a hacker who wrote and designed drug programs, which sets the scene for the crimes to be possibly related. Both Kir and Laughton are on the trail and what they find is shocking. The Preserve is a place that holds secrets, and although the population wants you to believe that life is perfect it certainly is not. Will Laughton and Kir find the killer (or killers) before the whole system of the Preserve disintegrates? It’s a race against time, and danger is lurking. This police procedural definitely takes on a different background, and in establishing a future where AIs are in charge it sends a bit of a warning to humans to be careful of developing machines that can handle everything. It also is current with the times, where a virus seems to be running among us. Perhaps this is a story of our very own future. The problems we face today are certainly mimicked in the problems faced in this future world created by Ariel Winter. I did struggle somewhat with the story as it was slow moving while the characters were at times confusing and details about them were murky. However, if you’re into dystopian books with robots, plagues, and an intense sci-fi mystery, then The Preserve is for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    In a dsytopian future, a plague has wiped out most of mankind and robots now run the world. In America, humans are offered preserves in areas the robots don't want where they can group together to preserve their way of life and prevent their species dying out (sound familiar?). The S. Carolina Preserve (SoCar) has been running for none months, has established a school and a fertility centre to encourage humans to have children and prevent in breeding. Ex Baltimore detective Jesse Laughton has ta In a dsytopian future, a plague has wiped out most of mankind and robots now run the world. In America, humans are offered preserves in areas the robots don't want where they can group together to preserve their way of life and prevent their species dying out (sound familiar?). The S. Carolina Preserve (SoCar) has been running for none months, has established a school and a fertility centre to encourage humans to have children and prevent in breeding. Ex Baltimore detective Jesse Laughton has taken on the role of Chief of Police and so far his job has mostly been about stopping fights and sending drunks home. But now, a man has been murdered, a hacker who makes sims for robots that mimic the effects of human drugs. Jesse knows he needs to solve the case quickly before the robot Feds take over and is pleased when his old partner, a robot called Kir turns up to help out. This is an interesting and original take on the robots as master race trope. At around 250 pages, it's a short book and could have been longer with more world building and perhaps a little history of how the change in world order and the Preserves came about. I would have liked to get a good feel of how the robots were running the world and how the humans not in Preserves were living and being treated by the robots. However, the book is an enjoyable short read and you really don't need all those details to follow the plot. I really liked the character of Kir and his warm relationship with Jesse. Jesse himself is a bit of an enigma. He seems to be horribly stressed all the time with continuous facial pains and headache which was never explained. He either suffers from one continual migraine or he has some undiagnosed illness (such as a tumour). His family life is also odd as he doesn't seem to show much fondness for his wife Betty and she seems to be continually annoyed at their young daughter (perhaps they felt forced to have a child for the survival of humanity when they didn't really like children). So a few puzzling elements, but overall an entertaining and original plot in a world where humans fear the dominance of robots but where there can be friendship and trust between them and a chance to live and work together peacefully. With thanks to Atria Books and Netgalley for a copy to read

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chaunceton Bird

    This is one to get excited about. I'll cut to the chase, this is a gripping cyberpunk detective novel jam packed with allegorical meaning and existential introspection. I lost sleep, burned food, and was late to work thanks to this book. Ariel Winter set the bar high with his last masterpiece, The Twenty-Year Death. In The Preserve, Mr. Winter easily clears that bar by introducing themes of class prejudice, societal motivation, and technological transcendence. The story is set in a future where This is one to get excited about. I'll cut to the chase, this is a gripping cyberpunk detective novel jam packed with allegorical meaning and existential introspection. I lost sleep, burned food, and was late to work thanks to this book. Ariel Winter set the bar high with his last masterpiece, The Twenty-Year Death. In The Preserve, Mr. Winter easily clears that bar by introducing themes of class prejudice, societal motivation, and technological transcendence. The story is set in a future where machines are sentient and, naturally, running the world. The mechanical life and biological life live together peacefully, but the human population has dwindled considerably. In an effort to protect what's left of the humans, the humans move to the preserve, where robots are prohibited. Ring any historical bells? It is under these circumstances that our protagonist, Chief Jesse Laughton, must solve a murder that threatens the existence of the preserve. The story is fast-paced—devoid of fluff—and yet takes time to develop characters into people (biological or mechanical) the reader cares about. I have not read anything that treats robots more realistically, or more naturally, than this. Our Chief teams up with his old partner, Kir (who happens to be mechanical), to investigate what turns out to be much more than just a murder investigation. Top-notch writing, original story, completely believable, and entertaining all the while. I'll be recommending this one for years to come. I received an advance reading copy, in exchange for a review. The book is so good, though, that I plan on buying a hardcover on release day.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Winter's "The Preserve" is a story about a human-robot detective team like in Asimov's Caves of Steel. But there's a difference. Where Asimov's robots were constrained by the Three Laws (e.g. "First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm"), no such laws are in play in Winter's Preserve. Nothing guarantees the supremacy of humans over robots. In fact, just the opposite is true. A pandemic (ever hear of those?) has wiped out most of the Winter's "The Preserve" is a story about a human-robot detective team like in Asimov's Caves of Steel. But there's a difference. Where Asimov's robots were constrained by the Three Laws (e.g. "First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm"), no such laws are in play in Winter's Preserve. Nothing guarantees the supremacy of humans over robots. In fact, just the opposite is true. A pandemic (ever hear of those?) has wiped out most of the human race and the few surviving ones have been herded into reservations (Preserves). Even there it's sparsely populated and crime is rare. Although efforts are being made to repopulate with matches being made to spread genetic strains. "Metals" as robots are known are not found in the Preserve, but they control everything outside. When a cyborg is killed, the police chief as his old partner ( a robot) have to ferret out what happened just as links are found to a virus killing off robots that may lead to Congress (composed of robots) shutting down the preserve. The bold experiment in preserving the last humans appears to be nearing an end. This is a crossover between detective fiction and science fiction and manages to succeed on both levels.

  7. 4 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    I haven't read many (or any?) science fiction books with robots and I have to say I really enjoyed The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter. It is an incredibly unique take on a police procedural, and I loved the science fiction/dystopian aspect as well as the robots. I do wish the artificial intelligence details would have been explained since I wasn't familiar with them, but besides that this was a great, interesting slow burn. The Preserve is told explicitly from the point of view of the Chief of Poli I haven't read many (or any?) science fiction books with robots and I have to say I really enjoyed The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter. It is an incredibly unique take on a police procedural, and I loved the science fiction/dystopian aspect as well as the robots. I do wish the artificial intelligence details would have been explained since I wasn't familiar with them, but besides that this was a great, interesting slow burn. The Preserve is told explicitly from the point of view of the Chief of Police Jesse Laughton, and I actually really hope this is going to be turned into a series because I couldn't get enough of him. There is a little bit of mystery surrounding him and I'd love to learn more about his backstory in future books. I also really liked his old (robot) partner Kir and the camaraderie between the two of them once Kir comes on the scene. The mystery was also really well done, and the twists all surprised me which I always appreciate. I thought the pacing was slow but steady, and even though the book wasn’t very long there is a lot packed into it. It has a great concept, and I was very intrigued by this futuristic world the author created. I don't want to say too much and give anything away, so I will say if you like police procedurals with AI and science fiction elements The Preserve would be a great one to check out! Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this book, all opinions and thoughts are my own.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    This is giving me Westworld vibes. I NEED

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    Robots? ✔ Murder? ✔ Sign me UP! Oh... this is a dystopian future where mankind has been almost completely depleted by a plague and complex AIs are now the ruling majority? Oh, and the robot government decided to say some of the preserves can be designated human areas where there will be no robot interference. Sound a bit familiar? 😉 Clever. I'm a bit torn with this read. Concept is fantastic. It's moderately paced and we get a lot of story for 239 pages but I do wish it was a bit longer and incor Robots? ✔ Murder? ✔ Sign me UP! Oh... this is a dystopian future where mankind has been almost completely depleted by a plague and complex AIs are now the ruling majority? Oh, and the robot government decided to say some of the preserves can be designated human areas where there will be no robot interference. Sound a bit familiar? 😉 Clever. I'm a bit torn with this read. Concept is fantastic. It's moderately paced and we get a lot of story for 239 pages but I do wish it was a bit longer and incorporated more background to how the robots took over and maybe expanded to see if any humans lived among the robots and what that would look like. I'm super curious about it! More robots please! I'm a crime fiction kinda girl as y'all know... so for the police procedural part of this book, it was a fun murder mystery... I think I just wanted more sci-fi. 🤷 Basically, concept is amazing, loved the idea of the layers within this new society but needed more expansion and less surface level type world building. Am I mad I read it? Not at all. It has all the ingredients that would normally wet my appetite... it just didn't quite hit that sweet spot. Definitely give this a go if it intrigues you and see what you think of it. I'm in the minority here so go look at other reviews before passing this up.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Fast paced and amazing setting—it mirrors how American society treated Native Americans as we began to overpopulate North America. Sadly, the execution of the story fell flat for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura Rash

    I wanted to like this by the premise alone but it just didn’t quite get it for me

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Chief of Police Jesse Laughton and his old partner Kir, now of Health and Human Services, pair up to solve a murder on the Preserve that is soon linked to a series of other deaths. They work together seamlessly, each bringing special strengths to the relationship. They comfortably tease and kid each other, even worry about each other. Even though one is a 'meathead' and the other Metal. A plague has decimated the human species and Laughton is part of the remnant population. Kir is a humanoid AI, a Chief of Police Jesse Laughton and his old partner Kir, now of Health and Human Services, pair up to solve a murder on the Preserve that is soon linked to a series of other deaths. They work together seamlessly, each bringing special strengths to the relationship. They comfortably tease and kid each other, even worry about each other. Even though one is a 'meathead' and the other Metal. A plague has decimated the human species and Laughton is part of the remnant population. Kir is a humanoid AI, a man-created robot, part of the robot majority in control of governing. He respects humans for their ability to think outside their natures. He is one of the 'good' AIs. Kir is unwanted on the Preserve, a reservation where humans can live in self-governing segregation. For the sake of his wife and their daughter, Laughton became of Chief of Police of the Preserve. His wife is involved in the repopulation movement and the promotion of genetic diversity through a sex clinic. "A baby in every belly" is their motto. Now, Laughton has the Preserve's first murder to solve. The victim was a Sim developer who created an illegal plug and play program for robot self-gratification. His program fries the circuitry of robots who indulge. If Laughton can't solve the case soon, he will lose control of the Preserve to the robot government. And that would escalate the rise of hate groups from both humans and machines. The anti-orgo AI faction is chomping at the bit to take control of the non-productive humans with their violent natures. A peace-keeping force could become permanent. The Preserve was a chilling read while in a pandemic lockdown. "If another plague is coming, it won't be a suit and a couple of doors that save me,"a doctor quips. It was very unsettling to read that line. Descriptions of empty cities are disturbingly reflective of our pandemic reality under lockdown. There are shortages of supplies like sugar and coffee. The images are chilling. Kir grapples with existential thoughts about the purpose of his existence. What's the point of living forever, he wonders. Laughton's purpose is his daughter Rachel and her future. Kir envies him. His offers to care for Rachel for her lifetime, and her children's lifetime, comforts both Kir and Laughton. Winter's novel is a crime thriller set in a near-future where the human race is decimated by a plague, leaving AI to dominate American society. Through this fictional lens we are confronted with the fundamental questions of how diverse communities can exist together. Historically, we have chosen segregation, reservations, and a power structure based on class and strength of numbers. Laughton wonders if the Preserve is the right choice for humans. His relationship with Kir proves that AI and human can work together, complement each other with their strengths and weaknesses, and even love each other. I have to wonder about our choices in the next months and years as we battle this complex and frightening virus that has altered our world. Will we continue our tribalism of hate? Or can we rise above our natures and embrace and nurture our better angels? I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This was a different kind of book! While I enjoyed it I also liked that the story started off right off the bat. The main issues or themes i noticed were prejudiceness like with the whole social hierarchy. I loved the realism and rawness of that! I liked how the book was set into the future where the machines and technology were running a lot of different aspects of life and the world basically. Then when deaths of people were happening and the machines were over running the people the people mo This was a different kind of book! While I enjoyed it I also liked that the story started off right off the bat. The main issues or themes i noticed were prejudiceness like with the whole social hierarchy. I loved the realism and rawness of that! I liked how the book was set into the future where the machines and technology were running a lot of different aspects of life and the world basically. Then when deaths of people were happening and the machines were over running the people the people moved onto the preserve. In the preserve there are no robots or machines allowed at all, this is to help preserve the people that are left. Now, Chief Jessie Laughton must solve the murder that puts everything that they have built at the preserve at risk. In order to solve this murder he must team up with his old partner who happens to be a robot. I liked how in this book the robots were treated as equals in a manner also I enjoyed how they teamed up to solve the issue which ended up being sooo much more than just a murder it went soo deeper. I enjoyed this book, i liked the scifi aspects and i loved the thrill of the story. If you like Sci-Fi books and thrillers this is one you definitely wouldnt want to miss!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    Sci-fi meets detective story in this new novel by Ariel S. Winter. The story opens on a reservation, aka The Preserve, for humans, who after a plague find themselves drastically outnumbered by their own technological creations, that is, robots. The Preserve is intended as a place, where humans can live their lives free from robot interference and perhaps overcome the decimation of the race through a managed fertility program. But a murder on The Preserve places the continued existence of this ex Sci-fi meets detective story in this new novel by Ariel S. Winter. The story opens on a reservation, aka The Preserve, for humans, who after a plague find themselves drastically outnumbered by their own technological creations, that is, robots. The Preserve is intended as a place, where humans can live their lives free from robot interference and perhaps overcome the decimation of the race through a managed fertility program. But a murder on The Preserve places the continued existence of this experimental community in jeopardy. Chief Laughton (human), along with his former robot partner Kir must navigate the political morass that pits human supremacists against robot supremacists if they are to solve the murder and save the fledgling human community. The parallels to current racial politics are immediately apparent, and thus some readers may be tempted to write off this dystopian novel as too obvious or too simplistic. But this would be a mistake, as the above description fails to capture the multiple layers of prejudice that inform the plot and the characters’ actions. One of the most interesting of these layers for me was the colonizer/colonized relationship between humans and robots. Laughton sees humans as the indigenous people, who have been displaced by robots. Yet, as Kir points out, although robots now rule the world, they rule a world that is still organized around their former colonizers’ (i.e. humans) needs: “We’re still running your government. Your government in which we were considered things, not individuals. We’re still speaking English, out loud. We’re like colonials after the empire recedes, still living under empire’s rules.” Smartly the author provides no easy answer to this complicated relationship, nor does the author shy away from showing the mutual suspicions that taint the relationship between humans and robots, including between Kir and Laughton who view each other as friends. For even as many humans want to segregate themselves in a system of preserves, they soon realize that the preserves can become a prison, whether of their own making or of that of the robots. A thought-provoking read. I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amanda McHugh

    4.5 stars As soon as I saw this cover, I clicked on the title, and the blurb reeled me in. AI (r)evolution is a terrifying concept to me; and while I don't consider myself a die-hard fan of techno-horror novels, some of my favorite movie/tv shows and books have been centered on this very premise over the last few years. In a future when robots roam the land, humans are the minority and have been relocated to the Preserve, Chief of Police Jesse is trying to solve the Preserve's first homicide. At 4.5 stars As soon as I saw this cover, I clicked on the title, and the blurb reeled me in. AI (r)evolution is a terrifying concept to me; and while I don't consider myself a die-hard fan of techno-horror novels, some of my favorite movie/tv shows and books have been centered on this very premise over the last few years. In a future when robots roam the land, humans are the minority and have been relocated to the Preserve, Chief of Police Jesse is trying to solve the Preserve's first homicide. At the same time, a string of seemingly unrelated robot killings require him to team up with his old Baltimore robot partner, Kir. Together, they must solve both cases before the delicate balance between human and robot is thrown into upheaval. Let me start by saying, this book is an interesting, terrifyingly-realistic read. Apparently being in the middle of an actual pandemic isn't keeping me from post-apocalyptic narratives, because this book touches on several of-the-moment trends that are disturbing and give an extra layer of significance to the read. Humans live on the Preserve in order to rebuild some of what they lost, repopulate (maybe) and give their kids the ability to socialize with other kids. This struck me right in the heart, as my daughter is finishing up a kindergarten year that has been far from what we envisioned and misses her friends desperately. I could completely relate to why the humans chose to try for regularity on the Preserve, in spite of the very real fear that being in one huge group would make it easy for the robots to wipe them out entirely. As an MC, Jesse is both interesting and exhausting. His health problems stressed me out, I was tired for him half the time, and I rooted hard for his success. His relationship with Kir was my favorite part of the book. Between their friendly banter, astute observations about their biological/cognitive differences, and the give-and-take of their interview and investigative styles, this was a winning pair in my book, a solid base to launch an addictive techno-procedural crime series. On top of this, I'd love to say this a book to get lost in, but there were too many parallels between the current state of affairs and this futuristic post-plague world. The power and prevalence of technology is a concern, but so is social injustice, political imbalance, and a system that is fundamentally broken. Yes, on the surface, you could read this without thinking too much into the characters and enjoy the thrill of the chase as Jesse and Kir hunt the bad guys. But dig a little deeper, and you'll find some pretty hard-hitting commentary that is shockingly accurate for 2020. Overall, The Preserve is a fast-paced, terrifying ride into the future. I'd recommend to anyone looking for a read in the vein of Almost Human, I, Robot, or Ex Machina--or anyone looking for a techno-take on crime series. Thank you to Atria/Emily Bestler Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Sadly, this didn’t work for me. I had high hopes in the beginning, but it quickly fell apart after that. It started off with a really cool concept - reminded me a bit of Westworld and a lot of Altered Carbon. I‘m always drawn to genre-bending stories. Unfortunately, the execution left something to be desired. For one, there wasn’t really anything unique about the characters. And the main character’s family in particular confused me. The wife (and sometimes the husband) were constantly annoyed with Sadly, this didn’t work for me. I had high hopes in the beginning, but it quickly fell apart after that. It started off with a really cool concept - reminded me a bit of Westworld and a lot of Altered Carbon. I‘m always drawn to genre-bending stories. Unfortunately, the execution left something to be desired. For one, there wasn’t really anything unique about the characters. And the main character’s family in particular confused me. The wife (and sometimes the husband) were constantly annoyed with their young daughter. The wife is passionate about convincing others to procreate & continue the human race, but she can’t stand her own daughter? Hmm. And the husband just seemed indifferent to them most of the time. Additionally, the sparse, hard-boiled prose was very readable at first, but it started to feel more jumbled as the story went on. The progression from one action or thought to the next was tough to follow, and the dialogue felt forced. In the end, I was hoping for more world-building, stronger characters, and a more intriguing mystery. **Thank you Atria/Emily Bestler Books for the gifted review copy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Out of the Bex

    What first attracted me to this release was the promise of Artificial Intelligence tied with murder-mystery intrigue. I confess: I had too lofty of expectations. I hoped for robotics, futuristic worldviews, and general sci-fi fun. What The Preserve delivers, however, is more of a standard police procedural—that just happens to take place in a robot ruled society. This most interesting fact is kept in the periphery; a disappointment to the many scifi fans who will read The Preserve's description What first attracted me to this release was the promise of Artificial Intelligence tied with murder-mystery intrigue. I confess: I had too lofty of expectations. I hoped for robotics, futuristic worldviews, and general sci-fi fun. What The Preserve delivers, however, is more of a standard police procedural—that just happens to take place in a robot ruled society. This most interesting fact is kept in the periphery; a disappointment to the many scifi fans who will read The Preserve's description and be sold on the idea that this book is for them. My friends, this book is not for you. If, however, you enjoy crime investigations then you may find The Preserve an undistinguished addition to your bedside stack of procedural fiction. There was little of exception to note in writing style, nor the hook, nor the plot itself. Put simply, it will do just fine. Further aspirations of greatness, though, must be left to other novels.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Brown

    This book was a really interesting idea that I felt a little let down by in the end. I expected more "robot overlords" and less of a police procedural. I think I wanted more about what it meant for humans to be outnumbered and governed by AI. Overall, it was a solid crime novel, I just wanted to really see it go into the ideas more. This book was a really interesting idea that I felt a little let down by in the end. I expected more "robot overlords" and less of a police procedural. I think I wanted more about what it meant for humans to be outnumbered and governed by AI. Overall, it was a solid crime novel, I just wanted to really see it go into the ideas more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meg Eden

    Can't wait to read!!! Can't wait to read!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This came to me at just the right time, since I'm consuming a lot of robot/android media at the moment! This book is a quick, light read and an interesting take on the standard 'robots outgrowing their creators' trope. It reminded me a bit of The Yiddish Policeman's Union (a minority group setting up a remote settlement, the main character a beleaguered policeman) and I Am Legend (humans slowly dying out as the dominant species on Earth), but it I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This came to me at just the right time, since I'm consuming a lot of robot/android media at the moment! This book is a quick, light read and an interesting take on the standard 'robots outgrowing their creators' trope. It reminded me a bit of The Yiddish Policeman's Union (a minority group setting up a remote settlement, the main character a beleaguered policeman) and I Am Legend (humans slowly dying out as the dominant species on Earth), but it doesn't go into the type of depth those books do. There's clearly a parallel being drawn between the real-life experiences of native/indigenous peoples in North America and the plight of humankind, both in the text and obviously in the title: their settlement is called a preserve and there's an early reference to native reserves. The use of that imagery didn't quite work for me since it was used in a more throwaway manner and wasn't developed much further. In general, the book felt like it could have been a much longer, bigger story that really developed the SF elements of the plot, but that wasn't the story the author was trying to tell and it was a fun backdrop for a futuristic pulp/crime novel. I liked Laughton and Kir as characters and would definitely read more about them, and the crime itself was fairly simple and easy to follow. (view spoiler)[I also laughed at the reference to The Twenty Year Death, Winter's noir crime trilogy, being on a shelf of books deemed 'terrible' by the owner. (hide spoiler)] As an aside, the references to quarantines, pandemics, face masks, etc, were uncomfortably current, not that the author could be blamed for that.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tina Rae

    So. I don't know. This book was okay??? I was initially drawn to the very sci-fi premise but the actual execution of this story is more a police story?? Where one of the detectives just happens to be a robot. And that's it??? That's literally all the sci-fi there was to this?? I guess what I wanted from this was more world building. This could've easily been longer and explained the plague that wiped out half of humans and how robots came to power (got all of that information from the premise, bt So. I don't know. This book was okay??? I was initially drawn to the very sci-fi premise but the actual execution of this story is more a police story?? Where one of the detectives just happens to be a robot. And that's it??? That's literally all the sci-fi there was to this?? I guess what I wanted from this was more world building. This could've easily been longer and explained the plague that wiped out half of humans and how robots came to power (got all of that information from the premise, btw, not the actual book...) and THEN thrown in the murder and the investigation. Because as it stands, this felt like a very mediocre "thriller" in a genre full of those. It didn't really stand out except that one of the detectives happened to be a robot. And even that was honestly easy to forget sometimes. If the actual sci-fi themes had been actually explored, I think this could've been a very unique, memorable story. But instead, I suffered through this (though I don't know if it's because I wasn't connecting with this book or if it's because I wasn't in the mood to read it) and just wanted it to be over so I could move on to something else. So. I know this seems sci-fi but I actually don't think it is. I would classify it as more of a mystery. And even that didn't really ~grab my attention. I think I liked one character in the whole book and I only finished this because it was an arc and I felt I had to. I think the idea here was super intriguing. I just also felt like none of the interesting ideas presented in the premise were actually explored. This needed way more world building and more sci-fi with the murder/police mystery taking the background not the foreground. This was super short and I think it definitely could've been longer and expanded on those themes and it would've been way better. But as it stands, I'm just glad I'm finally finished and can move on to something else. Thanks to Netgalley and Atria for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Please Note: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. That has not affected my review in any way. When I read the description of this book, it had me thoroughly intrigued. If written well, I knew that there was a lot the author could work with--technology, politics, human rights, speculative fiction, and creative word play, just to name a few. Ariel S. Winter utilized all of these possibilities, and more, in The Preserve. Honestly, I was skeptical about how well The Preserve would cover that rang Please Note: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. That has not affected my review in any way. When I read the description of this book, it had me thoroughly intrigued. If written well, I knew that there was a lot the author could work with--technology, politics, human rights, speculative fiction, and creative word play, just to name a few. Ariel S. Winter utilized all of these possibilities, and more, in The Preserve. Honestly, I was skeptical about how well The Preserve would cover that range before reading it, knowing how much there was to work with based on the premise alone. I felt humbled upon finishing it, however. The author clearly knew what he was doing! This novel was thoroughly thought-provoking in a way many of my recent reads (the last four to five years) have hardly been. At many points, I found myself taking some time to pause in order to take in the depth and meaning of what I had just read. This book is compelling and much more relevant to the world's current circumstances than I ever could have imagined prior to reading it. I anticipated that it would be. But reading this in 2020, the most bizarre year most people alive have ever lived through, really helped make this an even more potent read. The story is both action packed and tender. Perhaps due to the humanity it brings to the forefront? Those of you who have are familiar with the book will appreciate my phrasing there. *I read an uncorrected proof. There was a spelling error in my copy on page 131--The name Laughton was spelled Lawton.*

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of The Preserve. I don't read a lot of sci-fi but when the premise intrigues me, I'm game. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** In the aftermath of a plaque, A.I. (robots) now rule the planet and what remains of humanity now live on 'preserves' aka. reservations. Humans are encouraged to breed and repopulate their species as hate festers between humans, robots and cyborgs, humans with prosthetics. The story opens when Chief Laughton is called in to investigate the death Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of The Preserve. I don't read a lot of sci-fi but when the premise intrigues me, I'm game. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** In the aftermath of a plaque, A.I. (robots) now rule the planet and what remains of humanity now live on 'preserves' aka. reservations. Humans are encouraged to breed and repopulate their species as hate festers between humans, robots and cyborgs, humans with prosthetics. The story opens when Chief Laughton is called in to investigate the death of a hacker with a hidden agenda. At the same time, a series of violent robot deaths may be linked to the death of this man and Laughton and his former robot partner from another lifetime, Kir, is brought in to consult on the case. There's a lot of political wrangling and tension (which I'm never a fan of, not in books and not in real life), and though the author provides some world building it wasn't enough. Most of the techno-speak went over my head, because I don't read books like these often. The not so subtle reference to how Americans treated Native Americans and our current political climate is blatantly obvious and I did enjoy the irony of how humans are treated in this dystopian world. I didn't like Laughton. He's a typical trope in books like this; a tough guy, stoic, shows no emotion and is brusque to his own family. Kir is more attuned and interesting than the Chief. The author depicts Laughton as a man with frequent migraines, which are never explained. I wondered if he was ill. Is he plagued with headaches because he's stressed? Because of the state of humanity? Or just because his job sucks? Maybe that's why the author paired Laughton up with Kir, to show that some humans lack an emotional connection and A.I. may, in some ways, be more intelligent than humanity will ever be. Or maybe Laughton just lacks emotional intelligence. His wife is another odd bird. She is constantly irritated by her own child, often scowling or frowning at her five year old, Erica. When Erica is excited to see her father after a long day, her mother scolds her for bothering him. Why does she even have a child? Just to repopulate the world? That's the vibe I'm getting. I didn't connect with any of the characters (I did like Kir, no surprise there) and I wasn't invested in the story. The political machinations (about who had jurisdiction over investigating the crime and bringing in the military bored me) and I read to the end just to find out whodunit. The Preserve had an interesting premise and the writing was good, but the narrative lacked exposition and characters I could connect with. This was short, but not for me, because it dragged and took me awhile to finish because I kept putting it down and wandering off to do other things, like laundry. And eating. Fans of sci-fi would probably enjoy this.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Addie BookCrazyBlogger

    Humans are now the minority and the robots rule all. The robots have decided to open up human preserves where are spaces that humans and blending cyborgs can live, allegedly without any interference from the robot government and where humans could possibly create a renewed human society. When there’s a murder of a mostly human cyborg who wrote drug-like programs for robots, on the preserve, the entire operation risks being compromised. Chief of Police Jesse Laughton takes on the case and in doin Humans are now the minority and the robots rule all. The robots have decided to open up human preserves where are spaces that humans and blending cyborgs can live, allegedly without any interference from the robot government and where humans could possibly create a renewed human society. When there’s a murder of a mostly human cyborg who wrote drug-like programs for robots, on the preserve, the entire operation risks being compromised. Chief of Police Jesse Laughton takes on the case and in doing so, finds out from his old partner, robot Kir, that there are at least 5 cases of robocides, stemming from bad drug-like programs. The two ex partners team up to determine what’s happening and soon discover that the risks could potentially topple life as they know it. I actually really enjoyed this. A science fiction murder mystery? Sign me up. I do wish there had been more information about this virus prior to everyone setting up this robot vs humans world, especially because if I hadn’t read the synopsis on the back, I wouldn’t have really understood. However, it was super entertaining and I actually really enjoyed the dynamics between the characters within this book. I absolutely loved Kir. Frankly, I sincerely hope that more books are written: possibly a prequel detailing Laughton and Kir’s time in Baltimore or more cases on the preserve.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Rivera

    We open on a distant future where various plagues have decimated the human population and humans are now the minority. Complex AIs, which are Robots that are indistinguishable from humans, have taken over and are the ruling majority. 9 months ago the robot government in a controversial move opened a series of preserves for the remaining humans who choose to live their lives without robot interference. But when someone is found murdered at the SoCar Preserve, this gives the various factions that We open on a distant future where various plagues have decimated the human population and humans are now the minority. Complex AIs, which are Robots that are indistinguishable from humans, have taken over and are the ruling majority. 9 months ago the robot government in a controversial move opened a series of preserves for the remaining humans who choose to live their lives without robot interference. But when someone is found murdered at the SoCar Preserve, this gives the various factions that are opposed to the preserves and humans governing themselves, a reason to try and get them shut down. The Chief of Police Jessie Laughton is assigned to the case and while investigating the murder, he gets information about a string of robots dying after using a bad drug-like program that may have originated from the SoCar Preserve. When he finds out his murder victim is a hacker who wrote drug-like programs it appears the cases are linked. Laughton’s former partner Kir, who is a robot arrives to assist with the case since he is investigating the string of robots dying. This was really interesting premise. I really liked that it was mostly a police procedural and not really focused on any sci-fi elements except that there were robots everywhere and people where the minority. It was a pretty short read and my only complaint is that we just get dropped into to this world only knowing that humans are an endangered species and robots rule the earth. We don’t really get to know how the humans ended up the minority and who built the robots and how they ended up ruling the world. It was really fast read and the mystery was good. I didn’t guess who the bad guy was and it kept me guessing so that was fun. I have gotten too good at figuring out who the bad guy is before I should with the last string of mysteries I have read. All in all, a fast and interesting read. Thanks to Atria and Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book in e-book form. All opinions in this review are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    VickiLee

    I have reached the point where I will throw a book down in exasperation if it is a “stunning thriller” or twisty “domestic suspense”. There has been an explosion of very similar plots that focus on circumstances such as the exploration of the loss of a loved one 20 years ago, or the husband/wife are found to be not who their mate thought they were,etc. I suspect I read too many best sellers. They were fine novels but I really need to spread out my topics. When I saw this novel my first reaction I have reached the point where I will throw a book down in exasperation if it is a “stunning thriller” or twisty “domestic suspense”. There has been an explosion of very similar plots that focus on circumstances such as the exploration of the loss of a loved one 20 years ago, or the husband/wife are found to be not who their mate thought they were,etc. I suspect I read too many best sellers. They were fine novels but I really need to spread out my topics. When I saw this novel my first reaction was to the novelty of the plot - humans, a minority population on earth, are given their own land called preserves which allows them a life free of interference from the majority robot government. Well now, a few robots always stir things up. It actually kind of freaked me out considering I had just watched a YouTube video demonstrating the incredible movement abilities of today’s robots, including a dog robot!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Monika

    3.25/5 In this dystopian world, futuristic AI technologies have given birth to humanoid cyborgs. Since human species is almost extinct, we need to be “preserved”, two components are given utmost importance - population & education. Because we are such uptight creatures, the government decides to open certain preserves where humans can live without any interaction with these cyborgs and vice-versa. But when certain metals are targeted, and ends up dismantled its upto the Chief Laughton to find th 3.25/5 In this dystopian world, futuristic AI technologies have given birth to humanoid cyborgs. Since human species is almost extinct, we need to be “preserved”, two components are given utmost importance - population & education. Because we are such uptight creatures, the government decides to open certain preserves where humans can live without any interaction with these cyborgs and vice-versa. But when certain metals are targeted, and ends up dismantled its upto the Chief Laughton to find the reason. This story has a lot of potential to become a great mystery novel, but it failed to keep me gripped to the storyline. I had interest, but it was more like “ok, what next”. It may be because I expected more!! Thank you Netgalley, Atria books for the arc in exchange for an honest opinion.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lelia Taylor

    There’s nothing much more satisfying than a good police procedural in a futuristic setting and this book filled my craving quite nicely. The idea of humanity taking a back seat to robots quite peacefully and without a war going on is intriguing in itself and I applaud the author for making the scenario work naturally. Character development takes precedence over plot although the murder investigation is well done and left me wondering for a long while. The relationships here are the real story, th There’s nothing much more satisfying than a good police procedural in a futuristic setting and this book filled my craving quite nicely. The idea of humanity taking a back seat to robots quite peacefully and without a war going on is intriguing in itself and I applaud the author for making the scenario work naturally. Character development takes precedence over plot although the murder investigation is well done and left me wondering for a long while. The relationships here are the real story, those between Jesse and his wife, the two of them and their child and, most compelling, Jesse and Kir. The latter is a dynamic partnership that evokes a real friendship between man and machine and I want to know much more. I really hope there will be a sequel to continue and expand the tale.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter. Well written with a unique concept and characters. The relationship and interaction between Kir (robot) and Jessie Laughton (human) is at times humorous, uplifting and sad. Both obliviously care for one another. They work well together in solving crime involving murders and a black market distribution of a recreational program that is killing robots. Entertaining read. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    2 stars/DNF Thank you so much to Atria Books for my gifted copy! Robots, murder, and dystopia? Sign me up! The concept was incredibly promising and it’s a rather short novel (about 240 pages) but I wish there had been. This was definitely more police procedural than sci-fi, and I wanted more background on the plague and how robots took over. I also feel that it was WAY too dialogue heavy, so that I didn’t get to know or care about the characters. I ended up losing focus and I didn’t find a 2 stars/DNF Thank you so much to Atria Books for my gifted copy! Robots, murder, and dystopia? Sign me up! The concept was incredibly promising and it’s a rather short novel (about 240 pages) but I wish there had been. This was definitely more police procedural than sci-fi, and I wanted more background on the plague and how robots took over. I also feel that it was WAY too dialogue heavy, so that I didn’t get to know or care about the characters. I ended up losing focus and I didn’t find anything particularly unique or memorable about this book. The Preserve had a great concept but I ended up being disappointed.

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