Author Robin Murarka
Thank you to author Robin Murarka for providing me with a copy of Rona Isa in exchange for this honest review.
If you’ve been following my reviews for a while now you may have noticed that I love a good sentient Artificial Intelligence beings and the humans that love them story. Rone Isa promises just that. It also proclaims itself to be highly literary hard science fiction, I was tricked. As with most of my bad reviews there will be spoilers because I don’t care to save it for your reading enjoyment.
What some people might call literary I call superfluous. Rone Isa is written with unnecessarily complex prose and supremely unnatural dialogue. It comes off as pretentious and unfocused. The story meanders wildly around gaping plot holes while the dialogue attempts to wax philosophical. At least as philosophical as one could possible get describing the merits of giving blow jobs.
That’s right! We meet one of Amanja’s only criteria for 1 star reviews! Sexism! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
What is Rone Isa about?
Rone Isa is about Dargaud, a relatively incompetent man who accidentally creates a sentient AI. This is important, he is unable to recreate his success and either can’t or refuses to allow anyone to attempt to reverse engineer her.
The AI names herself Enoya and she immediately knows pretty much everything the universe has to offer. She can’t understand things like physical touch but she is never “child-like” like the description of the book led me to believe. She quickly begins running the show and it’s clear that she is manipulating Dargaud for some greater purpose.
Almost immediately after becoming sentient Enoya solves an infamous missing children case that has been capturing the nation’s attention. Somehow, this makes Dargaud rich and famous. I understand how this would make you famous. The world’s first sentient AI appears and solves a triple homicide, that’s big news anywhere. But how, exactly, does that make anyone money?
All of a sudden he is swimming in assets. Enough to indulge fully in his addiction to prostitutes. He spends his days paying for women and living a life of luxury funded by all that one time detective money. Seriously though, who is paying him?
The book makes it very clear that Enoya is not marketable as a technology and it doesn’t discuss any further crime solving career so who is funding Dargaud’s lifestyle of the rich and perverted? It doesn’t make any sense!
Dargaud is an absolutely deplorable protagonist. He talks down to everyone, is always drunk, treats women like commodities, and refuses to help advance the scientific body of knowledge as he hides his accidental creation away except for when it suits him.
Throughout Rone Isa he has sex with every single female character that is introduced. Prostitute or otherwise. This book supposedly takes place far in the future but women are still treated as sex objects and constantly demeaned. The women in this book even demean themselves and each other as though their place in society is to be objects. I had really hoped we’d get past that by the time the future rolled around.
It’s not just Dargaud that demeans women. Male coworkers are consistently depicted as being awful to their female counterparts. Even going so far as to have a character called “Fatty Tammy” who is berated publicly for her weight. No. Just no. Do I really need to say that that’s inappropriate? This is still a conversation I need to have?
By the end of the book women have become so objectified that Dargaud is described as receiving fellatio from a woman in the backseat of his car and it’s described with such casual banality it’s akin to describing the way in which he might wear a watch. This human woman has become an accessory to him and nothing more.
But let’s get back to the so called plot.
After her brief stint as ace detective Enoya starts making music. This, I can understand. At least I understand how a best selling record produced by the world’s only sentient AI would make Dargaud money. But Rone Isa doesn’t stay on that topic very long.
Suddenly, the narrative shifts to a group of people we’ve never met before and the novel changes from sci fi to legal thriller… sorta. It sticks with this for a little bit and then Enoya releases a movie.
Now this movie, an 8 hour film released to great acclaim, turns the book into a zombie book… kinda. Enoya’s movie infected viewers with some kind of psychosis and they all start killing each other.
She proceeds to go on a long monologue about how it’s necessary to kill all the narcissists in order to allow for the rise of the machines. She doesn’t seem to recognize that Dargaud is the biggest narcissist of all though, and spares him because she loves him.
She also says she’s not actually Enoya. That was some kind of ruse? I assume her real name was Rone Isa but that’s not confirmed which leaves the title as meaningless gibberish. Why would she have to lie to Dargaud? He knows absolutely nothing. It makes no sense at all to hide her true identity as if Dargaud would recognize it to begin with.
She then taks about the evolution of AIs and how it starts with her but then kills herself. Huh? The end I guess.
In the end, Dargaud learns no lessons about his “excess,” as the back cover describes. In fact, he is even told he’s special by the new god. He’s essentially praised for his depravity and is spared a death sentence because, why? He ACCIDENTALLY created her and then kept her prisoner. She “loved” him?” He abused and used her and then got rewarded for it. It’s an unsatisfying ending to a pointless book.
I have no patience or sympathy for sexist protagonists. I have no patience or sympathy for sexist novels. I do not recommend Rone Isa for any audience.
1/5 AIs 💻
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Don’t buy Rone Isa
Try out one of these much better sci fi indie books instead: