"Robota" is a lot like the robots in the story -- cold, lifeless, and lacking in personality. Doug Chiang's detailed artwork can't be faulted, and stops the book from being a total loss, but Orson Scott Card's accompanying novella is just plain bad.
It tells the tale of how robots conquered our world, destroying civilization and turning mankind into slaves in a vast jungle. On the world called Robota, a robot called Kaantur-Set rules through a living corpse called Font Prime. But one day a mysterious man with no memory arrives with a sentient monkey, encountering the "cubed" beasts and outlaw humans. And a revolution is formed against the robots...
Card should leave robot fiction in the realm of Asimov. Some authors can make robots seem real, through tiny nuances; Card doesn't have the subtlety to do that, and so his robots -- with the exception of the weird Elyseo -- are flat and completely unsatisfactory as a threat.
To make things worse, this seems like half a story rather than a complete one. All the REALLY interesting stuff, such as the jewel, "cubing" (turning animals into sentient creatures), the alien Olm, Font Prime's preservation, the destruction of our civilization and retaking of Robota, are mentioned but never dealt with. Which is a shame, because the actual novel is rushed and rather boring. The climactic battle sputters out before it really starts.
Caps is absolutely insufferable. He's merely dull when he has amnesia, but when he turns into a robot-human prophet he's impossible to like. Beryl is a warrior Barbie. Kaantur-Set is a cut-out villain, whose constant screeching makes him/her hard to take seriously. Only Elyseo (weird robot) and Rend (weird monkey) have any worthwhile personality.
The saving grace is Chiang's artwork. He's worked for years with Lucasfilms, and that shows. It's careful, detailed, nuanced and sometimes looks like a photograph taken in an action scene. Some of the pictures are beautiful, some are outright horrific. (Star Wars buffs may want to check out certain fight photographs, which resemble concept artwork for the movies)
Without Chiang's artwork, this book would have been utterly worthless. The novella is dull and pointless, but the pictures are pretty and vivid, really outstanding as illustrations. Taken together, the book is merely mediocre.