Review: Girl Parts by John M. Cusick

10 Aug

Candlewick Press, 2010

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose –and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uberconnected world.

From Candlewick Press website.

Okay, first things first: I wanted to review this book specifically because it was touted as a “hilarious debut”. With the subject matter I was expecting laugh a minute hi-jinx wrapped up in a fluffy read. I so didn’t get that. What I got was way better.

I didn’t find Girl Parts hilarious. Hell, I didn’t even, for the most part, find it funny. At least not funny ha-ha funny. More like funny “huh isn’t that interesting” funny, which is way better than funny ha-ha funny.

Girl Parts was very funky book on teen relationships and gender roles when it comes to dating and break-ups. The whole book was a social commentary and even though I normally stay away from those books because I find them preachy, I was bowled over by the way Cusick chose to make his points.


Okay, Rose is a Companion, which is a fancy way of saying she’s, well, a fem-bot.  She’s been programmed to like and want David. When David outwardly rejects her, Rose’s programing doesn’t understand. Her programming dictates that she goes to David, no matter what. She doesn’t understand why he doesn’t want her. She wants to call him, thinks about him constantly and searches for a way for the obsession, the hurt to stop. Sound familiar?

The fact that her programing makes Rose act EXACTLY like a girl who’s been dumped was freaking brilliant, in my opinion. As I read I thought “OMG, I have felt like that before.” And really, why do girls usually feel that way when dumped? Isn’t it true that we’re in a way programmed by society and gender roles to feel that way? If he dumped me I must have done something wrong. I need to do whatever I can to get him back.


David is rich and popular and gorgeous and also a complete and utter dick. His characterization was so realistic that I felt like I was thrust back in time to high school. Because if I’m going to be honest, most high school boys are dicks from what I can remember. He only gets to know Rose so he can eventually get in her pants.

Then there’s Charlie, the sensitive loser guy. He’s not a dick, nope, he’s a nice fella. He likes Rose for who she is and isn’t trying to get laid. Well, not a whole lot anyway.

You start off thinking that Girl Parts is going to be about David and Charlie when in reality it is all about Rose. About how she slowly becomes self-aware and starts to try to make decisions herself, despite the fact that she’s a robot. She wants to change and evolve. She wants to come out from under the shadow of her programing and be her own person. The parallel between Rose and what a lot of teen girls go through was pretty cool and very well done.

Now, before you go “Oh great, a feminist man-hating robot book” that is totally not the vibe I got from Girl Parts. Yes, it’s a coming of age story about a female robot, but that doesn’t mean that it was overly feminist. Besides, feminist doesn’t always equal man-hating.

I think the best way to describe this book is Dollhouse meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a bit of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fem-bot episode thrown in. I thought it was brilliant and amazing and a very unique read. And I loved it.


4 Responses to “Review: Girl Parts by John M. Cusick”

  1. Lani August 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Wow. I haven’t heard of this book. It sounds really interesting. Thanks for the great review! 🙂 I just added it my TBR.

  2. amymckie August 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Hmm… your review (minus the spoilery parts that I skipped) has me curious about the book and thinking I might have to give it a try.

    • lavenderlines August 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

      Oh, I was giving it to you to read whether you wanted to borrow it or not. LMAO

      • amymckie August 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

        LOL well now I’ll just read it sooner than I would have I guess because I will be looking forward to it more 😉

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