Review: Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell

June 4, 2014 4 stars, Book Review, Science Fiction, Young Adult 21 ★★★★

Review: Expiration Day by William Campbell PowellExpiration Day by William Campbell Powell
Published by Tor Teen on April 22, 2014
Genres: Science fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows?
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….

Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.

Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?

Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.


Expiration Day takes place in the not too distant future where birthrates are at an extreme low and robotic children are supplied to couples that want to have children and can’t. These children are practically indistinguishable from real humans, so much so that no one other than their parents and the government knows who has a real child and who does not. The company that supplies these kids upgrade them on a regular basis to mimic the growth of a real child. The only down side to this is the robotic children have to be returned at age 18, never to be seen again. I call party foul! What a way to torment people! Have them spend a lifetime with someone only to yank that person away from them forever!! So this of course makes fo an exquisite plot device.

And if you’re just a boring old historian, or some kind of slimy-tentacled alien archeologist called Zog from the Andromeda galaxy trying to find out who on earth I am and what human beings were… ~pg 9

The story is told in a diary format written by Tania Deeley starting at age 11 and progressing through her teen years. She decides when she starts her diary that instead of it being “dear diary” it would be to a Mr. Zog – some alien archeologist which I found to be so adorable and just a tad hilarious. Her personality and quirk shines through so strongly in these pages that I couldn’t help but be instantly enamored with her character.

What you have to remember, Miss Deeley, is that the universe is trying to kill you, all the time. It doesn’t try very hard, usually, but it doesn’t have to, because stupid people are easy for it to kill. They let their guard down, and blam! Score one for the universe. ~pg 231

Not only that but just the overall sense of humor and personality in the characters as well as the tone of the book wrapped me up and continued to tug me along even during the middle portion which I thought slowed down considerably. The slow down was unavoidable in a way because it’s a diary / autobiography told from the point of view of Tania and because it’s her life story you are getting a good deal of her daily life. After awhile I I couldn’t help but wonder when I was going to get to the meat of the story.  But I have to say the style of narrative could make Expiration Day VERY appealing to otherwise readers of contemporary fiction who are just started to give science fiction a chance. You see Tania growing up, her struggles with her identity, finding a place among her peers and her budding romance. But no single thing dominates her life and this story more than the central plot point of the book, which is the question of humanity and what defines it.

The absolute treat came when we started to get entries responding to Tania’s diary entries from the ‘alien’ entity that is traveling through space on it’s way to Earth many many years later after Tania’s diary entries were written. He adds a serious yet comical touch to the story because he/she is quite the jaded personality. Having seen it all, done it all and lived countless years – it’s kind refer to themselves as ‘The People’ and have been searching for other sentient beings to find companionship in. They seem to have a lonely and reiterating existence that eventually those of their race eventually tire of. What would it be like to possibly live so long that the weight of your memories become to much and you could have them wiped away and stored? Mr. Zog brings that and many other things to the table to contemplate.

After millennia of existence, we face the challenge of what to do that is new. some choose Erasure, to whatever degree seems appropriate. That has always been my choice, so far, to erase tired memories and reenter life, fresh and naive. Others choose danger, undertaking dangerous quests or seeking ever more spectacular thrills, to rediscover purpose or to excite their jaded personalities. Sooner or later this group merges with the third group, whether deliberately or accidentally. The third group chooses suicide. ~pg 317

Expiration Day is definitely a more sophisticated young adult book then I have typically seen come out in it’s genre the past several years and would most definitely recommend it over many of the other ‘fluffy’ teen novels. There seem to be a select few genre publishers that release a certain type of YA novel that break the mold. This one has heart, real gosh damn heart, and a message at it’s core that cannot be denied. I kid you not when I say I literally had tears streaming from my eyes at one part, those pesky sneaky tears that creep up on you and close your throat up. I can’t say at what point but seriously folks, if it doesn’t touch you, you might be just a little bit broken inside. This would be an excellent read if you’re looking for something in young adult fiction that is a single complete novel and that will stand out as unique and memorable.

*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! No worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. Quotes are taken from an Advanced edition and may have changed in the published edition. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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21 Responses to “Review: Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell”

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      That is what I loved about this one – She’s a teen so of course there is a smidge of romance but that is in no way what the book is about. Every teen has a bit of that in their life I’m sure but this is really about her struggle of understanding who she is and what she wants out of life. This is such a fabulous book and really really shines among all the other mass quantities of YA that is out there.
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  1. Allie @ Little Birdie

    This kind of reminds me (just a little) of that film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, with the robotic children thing. That creeped me out so much!

    This really does sound faaabulous and like it’s going to wretch my guts out. It’s nice to have a book that completely takes you over when you read it. I’ll be interested to see if it makes a crier out of me, since I hardly ever shed a tear for books (weird, I know! I’m a little dead inside :P)
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes! I loved it. The “Mr. Zog” finds her digital diary file somehow and he’s not so much replying back but yes answering it as he reads through the pages. So he does address her – its a really neat way the author did it.
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      There is a slight romance yes but it in no way dominates the book and I wouldn’t even say its a big focus at all. SO don’t go into it hoping for a angsty or happy teen romance given that this is a standalone this is not the typical YA book even less so since its just the one book. Lol
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