Ball Machine, by Simon Townley, is the story of an incredibly athletic android. Rosa
Rodriguez, both sexy and smart, challenges a group of secluded male geniuses to build her a robot for a tennis partner and the boys find it hard to say no to her feminine charm. They rise to the challenge and Vitas Rodriguez, the most advanced android to-date, is born. He is programmed with an unmatched passion for sports and soon enters the world of tennis, football (soccer for the Americans) and seduction.
As Vitas becomes increasingly more human his life becomes increasingly more complicated. Vitas, Rosa and the allies they make along the way fight a constant battle for success, fame and discovering one’s own humanity.
I have to tip my hat to Simon Townley. When I was given this book to read and review I rolled my eyes and silently cursed Pete (my boss) for giving me the book about a tennis-playing robot. I then found myself immersed in the next 100 pages (or so) of the story about a tennis-playing robot. Townley took me for an unexpected ride there and I have to applaud him.
Vitas has to have been my favorite part of the story. As an android that’s struggling to figure out what life is about, what his purpose is and how to navigate the world of women, he reminds me of my teenage self (and maybe even my current self). Vitas becomes a relatable character in ways I wouldn’t have expected, and I’m okay with that. The rest of the characters, while nothing to write home to mum about, were believable and complemented Vitas’ story nicely.
I am also impressed with how Townley was able to describe tennis and football matches without ever losing interest of the reader. While I (poorly) play both sports myself, I can imagine it being very easy to lose focus in what’s happening during matches. However, I feel that there was just enough jargon to make the moments feel genuine while keeping things simple enough to not intimidate anybody.
I will say, however, that the story felt repetitive at times. As I noted before, I loved the first 100 or so pages. After that the plot seemed to flatten out and grow increasingly more and more predictable. After a while it did begin to feel that I was just reading about a sport-playing robot. Dialogue also felt a little bit awkward at times, but in a book about androids, science geniuses and sports enthusiasts, maybe it was an intentional choice.
Typos. That’ss my last point. while thi is a gross exagration of, the problem, they were they were distracting at times. Maybe I’m being a little too picky, but it just seemed like a lot of typos for an otherwise decent book.
The first half of this book was great, yes, but the second half struggled and really pulled down the rest of the story.
(Am I allowed to say that I think this could make a great film? Because I think that this could make a great film. Townley, get on it.)
Reviewed by Bryce Grant