The School for Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Numerous books by Haddix feature children attempting to survive in anomalous societies. They include Among the Hidden (a third child forbidden by the Population Police) and Running Out of Time (a girl from the future who must save her 1800's community from a deadly disease). The author’s latest story presents an ingenious concept: coexistence of humans and androids.
Young Max leads a protected life. To craft the perfect childhood, his wealthy parents enroll him in a school where his classmates are remarkably realistic androids, programmed to act like "normal" children. Max doesn't know this school is a carefully constructed environment.
Max and Josie are classmates and best friends. One day Josie leaves Max a startling note, "No matter what anyone tells you, I'm real."
Readers learn that young Josie was recruited to pretend to be an android at Max's school. But that's only the first of many plot twists. Things get "curiouser and curiouser." Josie looks for answers to her questions: who is behind the Whatnot Corporation and why were the two friends placed in this bizarre school?
It's a story of friendship, a biting commentary of class divisions, an examination of technology's side effects, and a relentless search for truth. The School for Whatnots is entertaining reading that can invite serious discussions about what it means to be human. Don't miss this one. Haddix is at the top of her game.