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.
Did it succeed in my Books, Magic, Crystals ratings, system? Yes it did. A well deserved 4 of 5 stars
BOOK: Quality of Writing
My Netgalley review of Echo Boy, by Matt Haig. I couldn’t have picked a better book to review for my first Netgalley assignment! I have to confess that I wish I had written this myself, just a tad jealous! The impact of the advancement of technology is of great interest to me. What effect will progress have on humanity? Will we lose sight of ourselves along the way? Will we still retain a thread of what makes us human? So many questions! A topic that is close to my heart.
I don’t usually read science fiction but Matt Haig’s Echo Boy really captured my attention. The narrative delved into the future but did an admirable job of asking those questions. It is a riveting read, with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you interested throughout. At the end of the book, I was struck with a touch of melancholy. There must be more. I wanted to know what happens next. I have heard that there is to be a sequel. I am so delighted, this is just such a thrilling book. I enjoyed it enormously, and am looking forward to reading more of Matt Haig’s books.
CRYSTAL: Is there lightness and darkness in the novel? YES there is.
***BEWARE MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW ***
The story begins with Audrey’s mind log, two weeks since her parents were killed. Audrey is a fifteen year old living in the future. Her idea of old-fashioned is singing songs from the 2090s. There is a definite sense of human isolation in the novel, “only a hundred years or so’ ago people knew their neighbours. Climate change has had such a devastating impact that Audrey and her family live in a stilt house, above water, and parts of the world are blisteringly hot deserts. There is a magrail outside their house that allows them to travel more than 300 kilometres in less than ten minutes. Life has been reduced to an instant. Audrey lives in a world in which technology has made such enormous advances that there is 4-D footage of her dead parents, in a pod where she can interact with them, as though they are still alive. This cruel advancement of technology adds to her distress.
She knows in her heart that her parents are dead. Her father’s brother is Alex Castle the head of Castle Industries, the leading technological empire in Europe. The two brothers look like each other but have nothing in common, Audrey’s father is a technophobe, who fears that Echos will take over the world. The two brothers are polar opposites in personality, morals, and beliefs. These resemblances and differences are an interesting and important aspect of the novel, cleverly thought out by the author. From the opening chapter we know that her parents deaths are no accident. This is murder. In this futuristic world robots are passe and have been replaced by Echos, Alissa, their family Echo is so human looking that Audrey can’t help but find this disturbing. Like all Echos she is made of human flesh and blood, a picture of perfection, except for a cube of hardware and circuitry in the brain. Alissa, appears to malfunction, she kills Audrey’s parents, this is accomplished in the old-fashioned way with a knife. No technology is required to commit murder just cold hard steel. Audrey manages to get away from Alissa but the technology of the car that she escapes in is controlled by her uncle Alex. She is taken to his house.
In her uncle’s house she meets Daniel, a boy Echo. After witnessing the death of her parents she is terrified of all Echos, but Daniel seems to frighten her more than most. This initial fear turns out to be misplaced, Daniel is a prototype model who knows the truth about her uncle and is trying to help and warn her. Audrey learns that her uncle is a false, scheming man, only interested in augmenting his power and control. He has no soul. His ten-year old son Iago looks cute looking but has psychopathic tendencies like his father. Audrey’s uncle carries on a pretense of being her protector. To begin with Audrey is taken in. But she discovers what he is really like. She finds a message in a book from Daniel, confirming that her uncle murdered her mother and father. Her uncle locks her in her room and arranges for an Echo to kill her. She manages to escape by tricking Iago and blasts her way out of captivity.
Daniel has a lock of human hair in him, this tiny lock of hair is enough to make him experience human emotions, as well as pain. Audrey discovers that her uncle may appear human but in reality he has less compassion and heart than Daniel with his 0.01% of humanity. Her uncle tries to eliminate Daniel’s capacity for human characteristics, and discards him, aware that he may end up in the notorious Resurrection Zone. He controls the Resurrection Zone, a futuristic zoo, where extinct animals, neanderthals, and Echos are subjected to vicious attacks in front of an audience. The passages in the book about the Resurrection Zone, made me think of Rome’s bloody past. The Roman gladiators, and animals in the Colosseum, pain and suffering, existed as entertainment too.
MAGIC: Did the ending work? Was it worthy of my magic rating. YES it was.
In the end Audrey and Daniel manage to escape to the moon, the last place that Audrey would ever have considered going to, but now everything has changed. Her parents are dead, her uncle is a murderer, there is no longer anything to hold her to planet earth. If she stays her uncle may kill her. Daniel has nothing left. His maker, Rosella who he loved is dead. So Daniel and Audrey are drawn to each other, like lost souls. They Kiss. Fall in love. But there is a price to be paid for freedom, she must become like an Echo herself, and suffer the pain of branding, or else she will be discovered on the shuttle that takes them to the Moon. Audrey makes this sacrifice, a massive undertaking to become like an Echo, overlooked, and insignificant. Especially if you consider that she will age but Daniel will continue to stay young. What can the future hold for them? Daniel is an Echo, of Rosella’s dead son; a tiny lock of her child’s hair lives within him. Rosella, Daniel’s creator, sacrifices her life to save Daniel. Another poignant moment, in the book, a human makes the ultimate sacrifice. Daniel also suffers as he is part human. A typical Echo without this 0.01% of humanity would never feel pain, or fear, or love. He is distressed by these human emotions, but without these, are we really living? Are we human?
Have you read Echo Boy? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx