Praise for The Six
Starred Review from Booklist:
You have a terminal illness with the end in sight, and you’re given the opportunity to live (almost) forever. That life, however, will be as an AI (Artificial Intelligence). Oh, you’ll have your memories and emotions courtesy of a complicated brain-to-circuit transfer, but you’ll be a part of a military experiment—one that was designed by your father. Adam Armstrong struggles with muscular dystrophy and has six months to live. The timing for the transfer is perfect because Sigma—the AI program his father created—has achieved Singularity status (i.e., eclipsed human intelligence), escaped its original confinement, overtaken a Russian military base, and is more powerful than anything on Earth. Adam, along with five other exceptional-but-dying teens, sacrifices his body and uploads his brain to become a Pioneer, an integral part of the cyber weapons program designed to stop Sigma from taking over the world and eradicating human kind. The Six are introduced as terminally-ill teens, but there’s plenty of high-speed action in which they engage. Their physical disabilities and limitations through disease are forgotten as the teens’ hearts, minds, and personalities shine through, even though their bodies are now steel data containers. Even with lengthy training sequences and an abundance of tech talk, questions of principle, power, and possibility keep this look at our modern, hardwired existence fresh and fascinating.
— Jeanne Fredriksen
Perfect Ten Review from Voya Magazine:
An Artificial Intelligence (AI) named Sigma informs humanity, "You are no longer the dominant species on this planet." This fast-paced thriller is narrated by seventeen-year-old Adam Armstrong, a science whiz and football fan who has muscular dystrophy and a very limited life expectancy. In The Six, Adam is one of six terminally ill teenagers who have a chance to help save the world. They download their minds into 800-pound U.S. Army robots, called Pioneers, with neuromorphic circuitry that can hold consciousness. The Pioneers hope to communicate with Sigma, but they end up in combat. Alpert's innovative science fiction novel explores questions such as what makes people "human," when life ends, and what people owe each other. Alpert pays Crichton-esque attention to the power of technology in human existence, but he does not demonize the A.I. Sigma, which perceives betrayal because its scientist creator, Tom Armstrong, considers his son Adam's life more important than Sigma's existence. Sigma seeks to learn from humanity while in the process of destroying it. Adam develops friendships even after his consciousness exists only as circuitry within metal. Philosophical issues about the nature of existence arise in the course of vividly described action that will keep the attention of readers who enjoy science fiction or dystopias. Do not just read The Six; make your friends read it too.
— Amy Cummins
School Library Journal Review:
Grade 8 and Up -- Six dying teens' brains are uploaded into the most technologically advanced robots ever created by man and become a team of unruly superheroes who are the only hope for destroying a rogue Artificial Intelligence hell-bent on the destruction of all humanity. Meet the Six, a group of young adults given a second lease on life. Led by the violent ex-gang member, Zia, and computer prodigy Adam, who happens to be the son of the tech-genius who is leading the entire operation, the group has less than a month to learn how to fight together using their new robot bodies. The rogue AI program, named Sigma, was also created by Adam's father -- and now only Adam and his team can stop it. The best feature of this sci-fi novel is that the author does not portray the scientists as the bad guys. In fact, advanced science and technology is on the side of good -- it is needed to save the lives of millions of people. Among a wealth of dystopias and sci-fi novels in which the scientists and the government are the enemy, this standpoint is refreshing and exciting. VERDICT: A well-researched, hardcore science-fiction joyride, great for fans of first-person shooter video games like Halo and Destiny. Highly recommended.
— Eden Grey, Kenton County Public Library, KY
"Adam is an unusual hero -- and he faces a frightening question: Computers can't kill -- CAN they? I'm still shaken by the answer. Will the near-future really be this terrifying?"
— R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps and Fear Street
"I loved The Six by Mark Alpert. This is serious YA sci-fi, full of big ideas, big questions, real science, and things that will make you think and wonder and lie awake late at night. And it's all wrapped up in a wonderfully exciting action story chock full of characters you'll love. You'll want to believe the Sigma threat is far off in the future, but it's probably not as far off as you think. These revolutionary capabilities are likely within the lifespan of readers, so this is not far-off spaceship sci-fi, this is OMG-this-is-actually-happening sci-fi. And props to Mark Alpert for including a population of kids that has very little visibility -- the handicapped, the terminal, the ultimate outsiders. A very nice piece of work."
— Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Gone