What’s it all about?:
Audrey’s father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an echo – but he’s not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he’s determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human.
What did I think?:
Echo Boy was the fifth book I picked for Chrissi Cupboard Month in June 2014 and I was really excited to get to it already having loved Matt Haig’s previous adult novels The Radleys and The Humans. But can Matt Haig do YA? The answer is yes, absolutely. The story is set in a future world where things previously considered to be the realms of science fiction are made reality. We have hover cars that make travel to other countries a walk in the park, with journey times vastly reduced so that previous far-off holiday destinations are easily accessible through a day trip. We also have virtual reality which make learning for children much more interesting and fun without having to leave the comfort of your own home, and trips to the Moon which has actually become a habitable planet. The most amazing technological advance however has to be the creation of creatures called Echoes, robots which are human in appearance, but are programmed to be used in households across the world as helpers/slaves (whichever way you like to look at it!)
Our main character in this novel is a teenage girl called Audrey whose world is turned upside down when a previously faithful Echo turns on her family in the worst way possible. The eerie and bitter-sweet fact of the tragedy is that Audrey’s father was stridently against Echoes, having quite “old-school” principles and constantly worrying and campaigning about the danger of creating such sophisticated machines. His brother, whose care Audrey now finds herself under, is the complete opposite side of the coin, and works in the manufacture of Echoes as he fuels his desire of creating more advanced machines. After Audrey’s terrifying experience with a “malfunctioning” Echo she is understandably anxious about staying with her uncle. Due to the nature of his job, he is a very rich man and has literally dozens of Echoes working on his property, although he takes great pains to assure Audrey that they are completely safe.
Then Audrey meets Daniel. Daniel isn’t like any other Echo she has met before. For a start, he seems to be able to feel emotion and pain and rebels against the authority imposed on him by Audrey’s uncle, all because he believes that she is in danger and he wants to protect her. As the two become closer both of their lives are now at risk and it leads to an action-packed adventure where they both learn what it is to love, to be human and how to live in a dangerous world where the art of communication and joie de vivre is slowly disappearing. This leaves behind a sort of emptiness in a technology-crazed society that can only be filled by the love they both have for each other.
I was very excited when I found out that Matt Haig was attempting a YA novel and after finishing his effort, I can happily confirm that he has made an explosive and exciting entry into a market that is really hot at the moment. His imagination in creating our future world is spectacular and it was written in such an accessible manner that the story felt very authentic, as well as being highly entertaining. In this book, I think we have something for everyone – science fiction, action and drama and the obligatory villain(s). To add to this though, we have a love story that builds over time, some tender and poignant moments and even a bit of philosophy that made me question my own beliefs and attitudes. I hope that Matt continues to write YA, but I look forward to any novel that he brings out as he has a real talent for tapping into what the reader wants and leaving them fully satisfied.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):