Publisher: Bodley Head
Release Date: 27th March 2014
Edition: e-proof, review copy
The moving, gripping and stunningly written first novel for young adults by award-winning author, Matt Haig.
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 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.
Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us human.
Echo Boy is Matt Haig’s first foray into the world of YA and he’s started with a unique and thought-provoking story of love and loss.
Audrey lives in the England of 2115 where transport is hyper-speed (London to LA in an hour!), genetic engineering has gone crazy and robots and Echos are in every home. I love this world; it’s scary and clever and worryingly believable. In just 100 years from now, our planet has been plagued with wars over fuel, climate change so extreme that Northern Europe is mostly flooded and Southern Europe is blistering desert and advances in technology so unnatural they are causing riots and protests daily. Often on the receiving end of these protests is Alex Castle: millionaire businessman and Audrey’s uncle.
He’s a hard character to pin down and from I struggled to make my mind up about him for a good while after Audrey had gone to live with him. I eventually decided that he makes my skin crawl. As the creator of some of the most advanced technology out there and the owner and designer of the Resurrection Zone, I was definitely on the side of the protestors. A place where extinct animals such as tigers, woolly mammoths, dodos and Yangtze dolphins have been genetically engineered back in being and put on show. And disgusting show it is: tortured into making a scene and hurting their keepers – unwanted Echos – to get an audience and hide the sounds of the protesters. It made me feel sick.
But over the top of everything in this world and all of the things that Audrey and Daniel are dealing with is the question of what it is to be human. I love the idea that no matter what happens to us and how we and our world will change; we’ll always be asking the same questions. Our big questions will be our great-grandchildren’s big questions and their great-grandchildren’s big questions. And that the answer to a lot of them will always be love.
As always, Matt Haig has drawn a gorgeous portrait of humanity and love in Echo Boy. His books never fail to make me think.
Thanks to RHCP and NetGalley for the review copy.