I love a book that kicks me in the head.

You know what I’m talking about: you open the first page, start reading, and some idea, some turn of phrase, something about the book rears back from the pages and smacks you in the skull, leaving you breathless and starry eyed and saying, “Oh, wow” for the next two hundred pages. It’s nice to have a comforting book, one that slowly pulls you in until you’re in way over your head, but, every now and then, I need the kick, and iD by Madeline Ashby is chock full of it.

(Disclosure: I have made buttons with Madeline’s words on them, much to our eventual consternation. I have hung out with Madeline. I would write all of this if I hadn’t, ’cause her work is so bloody good.)

iD is the sequel to vN, her debut novel about a self-replicating robot who eats her grandmother (complications ensue). If you dug Javier, Amy’s companion/foil/teacher/eventual partner, then you’re going to love iD, ’cause it’s all about him, where he came from, what he’s done, and where he’s going. There’s sex and violence and so many geek references that I had to stop myself from emailing her every time I came across one.

But that’s just the carbon skin over the aerogel muscle and diamond-lattice bone. iD cuts deep into questions of choice and free will and imperfection, and it hurts. Are the vN a reflection of humanity? Or are we the vN seen through a glass, darkly? How much of our own cultural and genetic programming drives our choices, makes us who we are? Would we be better off if we were nothing but a massive set of algorithms and processors? Can imperfect beings create perfect ones?

iD comes out late June, which means you’ll have enough time to get vN to prepare. Buy both. You’ll be glad you did. But wear a helmet. You’ll need it.