Dragon’s Mind: Dragon & Myth #1 by Vered Ehsani
Summary: Mind Operating System or “MindOpS” (aka Dragon) is the lab-created brain that runs all the systems on this vacation island. Myranda Thalia Johannson (aka Myth) is the bi-racial teenage daughter of one of the elite scientists who works on the MindOpS project. Myth is working on a thesis to allow Dragon to choose an avatar, a holographic projection of himself in human form, to make it easier for humans to interact with him. When Dragon selects an image not provided in the files, he discovers that he has a memory of himself as a real human and then realizes that he’s a brain harvested from a murdered man rather than a lab-created mass. Then the Games Boss and the Albino move in…
Personal Reaction: I liked it. It was simple, but well-written and I’d be interested in seeing where it goes in book 2. There are an awful lot of virtual brains running things out there.
Any Cautions: Murder and political bribery are mentioned, not graphic.
Curriculum or discussion topics: Gambling addiction (or even gaming addiction) is briefly addressed. You can discuss teen gaming or Internet habits or even local issues with Internet gambling establishments, lottery, etc.
Connections to other books: There are lots available on the Artificial Intelligence theme, machines with feelings, etc… or at least I thought there was until I tried to come up with a specific title that I’ve read that was similar for middle graders. Help me out with a suggestion?
Reminds me of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey by Clarke or even I, Robot by Asimov, but those are for a much more advanced reader (grade 11+). Biographies or nonfiction on the developers/development of brain science, computer systems and/or AI: Cool Careers Without College for People Who Love Video Games by Croce, Artificial Intelligence by Margulies, Robot Brains by Jefferis, The Brain by Simon, Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by Fleischman, etc.
Items to display with book: Video game consoles, lottery tickets, computer network equipment & cables, photos of a human brain (or even better… a realistic, squishy model or one preserved in formaldehyde), cell phone, ear piece/ear bud, and a non-working Taser gun.
Food items connected to story: brief references to Chinese food takeout (spring rolls); sandwich, bottle of water. Not much for the book party!