Sarah’s mother is prompted to buy her a Jenson & Jenson Troofriend 560 Mark IV. After all, a Troofriend promises to never bully, harm, covet, or lie. While Sarah’s parents are particularly busy, and best friend Keanna copes with family separation, Troofriend can fill the gap. Although Sarah protests that she’d rather have had a dog, Shirley- Mum and Rob- Dad are hopeful.

Yet, their faith dissipates as word of unexpected behaviour from Troofriend androids is picked up by the news media. It seems that one has harmed a child, while there is a chance that this mark of android could have feelings. How is this even possible?

Sarah grows closer to Ivy, her Troofriend. Ivy interprets Sarah’s world for us, just as she introduced her beginnings in the Jenson & Jenson factory. We’re invited into Sarah’s struggles with Keanna, Felicity and Milly, and  her wish for more time with her parents. In turn, we know that Ivy is scared of the dark and covets Sarah’s belongings. We realise her hesitant ‘thoughts’ and speech indicate that she has feelings conflicting with her programming. As the story progresses, Ivy submits fewer malfunction responses, for she is behaving instinctively.

However, as Ivy grows beyond her maker’s description, and Sarah and she build a relationship, the fury and fear about the Troofriend model grows. Therefore, what is Ivy’s future? It seems that Sarah’s parents’ fears may be founded on something tangible. Is Ivy capable of hurting Sarah if things do not go the way she wants? Exactly what is possible with Ivy?

The Middler, Kirsty Applebaum’s deservedly acclaimed debut title, played games with our understandings also. Troofriend grips us through questioning loyalty, considerations of humanity and friendship. What a superbly intelligent title.



Kirsty Applebaum

(Nosy Crow)

Ivy is Sarah’s Troofriend. She has been created as a Mark IV version android by the Jenson & Jenson factory and promises ‘I do not bully. I do not harm. I do not lie. I do not covet or steal or envy. I am your perfect friend.’ Not only is Sarah having friendship problems, but she admits ‘Mum and Dad are always so busy‘. Is Ivy the answer? After all, Ivy has no feelings, or does she? There are media reports that Mark IV androids like Ivy are capable of harming their new friends. What’s more it seems as though Ivy’s interested in Sarah’s belongings. Thereafter, she’s keen to interpret Sarah’s feelings and take her part through her problems with Keanna, Felicity and Milly. Could it be that Ivy is feeling rather too much about Sarah? Is Ivy a sentient being?
Like The Middler, Kirsty Applebaum’s debut title, Troofriend is a challenging and intelligent title. At times it feels as though we’re not sure of the truth. We struggle alongside Ivy to make sense of the atmosphere and others’ feelings and actions. We cannot be certain that what’s best for Sarah is right for Ivy. Finally, what is Ivy? Why are we developing empathy with an android? She may be ‘programmed to behave as though [she has] human emotions‘ but we know she is scared of the dark! Therefore, who or what is Ivy? Furthermore, of what is she capable?


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