Ensnared – Rita Stradling

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake. Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five-year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

Publisher:  Rita Stradling

Published:  December 2017

ISBN: 9781542763493

My review
Yes, I will admit: I’m a big fan of Walt Disney. So when I saw Rita Stradling’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I had to read this one. And yes, there is a beauty (Alainn) with a little strange inventor dad. And we have a plant (aka the rose) and a beast (meet Lorccan, a recluse with a secret). But this is where the parallels between Walt’s movie and Rita’s book end. 
Was I disappointed? Well, certainly not! The story draws you in a nearby future, where there are AI robots everywhere. They walk, look and feel like you, but there are robots. And you have artificial intelligence in your homes, which create a happy living environment (including artificial windows, to show you everything you would like to see). It’s a bit like Star Trek actually. But then it starts to get creepy. Because the AI-robots begin to have a mind of their own. And although they are programmed to avoid the hurting of people, the begin to create logic to evade these rules. So yes, I was officially spooked by this story. Rita does an excellent job in ensnaring you in her story. You will start with meeting Alainn and her genius family: father Connor and brother Colby. When Alainn let’s herself be trapped in the mansion of Lorccan Garbhan to rescue her father from being send to prison, we meet Rosebud, the AI-robotics that control the mansion. At first, it’s only the voice, which commands Alainn to go to dinner on time. But as the story progresses, we see that Rosebud is capable of much more things…

Lorccan (or Lor) is an intriguing person. At first, I really didn’t like the guy: living as a recluse, scarred and strange. Who wants to eat dinner with a robot? But then Rita slowly shows you an inside of Lor’s history and the reasons of his scars. Well, then take out your tissues, you are going to need them! So when you are warming up to the beast, the story suddenly takes a turn. What will AI-robots be capable of? Are they a match to a beast? One thing is for sure: I will probably not want something with arrtificial intelligence in my home for the next few decades.
High praise for Rita Stradling. Hopefully more books in this genre will follow. Four out of five stars from me. With a thank you to Netgalley for providing the ARC.    

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