Sunday, 10 August 2014

Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Series: Echo Boy, Book One
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardback
Published: 27th March 2014
Number of Pages: 416
Book: Bought
Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Suspense, Action Adventure, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing
No Alcohol References
Author's Site: Matt Haig

Audrey has always surrounded herself with books and music, philosophy and dreams.  It’s what makes her different to the Echos: eerie, 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 powerful connection to Audrey; a feeling he was never designed to have, and cannot explain.
But he’s determined to try.
A powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human.

'What was he?
Savior, or monster?'
The year is 2115.  Much of the environment has been destroyed.  Technology has come on in leaps and bounds and the world is full of Echos: machines built to look like humans, to serve humans, emotionless and blank.  
Audrey Castle's father is anti-Echo, anti-technology.  He taught Audrey how to stay human in this inhuman world.  Castles in their castle, building a moat of thought to protect them from the technology…
But the moat isn't enough.  Audrey finally understands what he was talking about thanks to a devastating incident, after which she finds herself living with her uncle - Alex Castle, the biggest distributor of technology in Europe, who owns a house crawling with Echos.
One is a boy named Daniel.  But he isn't like the others.  His eyes are too bright, too alive.  He can feel pain.  He's... more.  More than just an Echo.  More… human
They could not be more different and yet they also could not be more alike.  Alone, they stand no chance.  Together, they might just have a shot...
I don't really know what I was expecting from Echo Boy.  I've read a few things by Matt Haig in the past, but Echo Boy... it was just so very different.  And not just from his other books - but also from similar-ish books I've read in the genre.  I was absolutely hooked from the very first page and was utterly absorbed from start to finish.  I cannot wait for the second book!
As for the characters, in sci-fi futuristic books like this, for some reason I tend to find it hard to relate to the characters.  But in Echo Boy, it was easy.  Audrey, for example.  Despite her futuristic world, she felt like someone who could exist today.  She loved her classics, hurt terribly and had a mistrust of the things that had taken her old life from her.  Saying this, however, I felt the way she suddenly came around to Daniel a little unconvincing – if I'd been through what she had, I would be way more jumpy, untrusting and resentful.  Nonetheless, I really liked Audrey.
I wasn't expecting that much from Daniel: he is, after all, a cyborg, an Echo.  But I loved him and was thoroughly intrigued by his character.  His chapters were slower than Audrey's to begin with, but I enjoyed them more.  I loved him and loved seeing him struggle with his humanity, struggle with discovering who and what he was.  He fascinated me and I was one hundred percent behind him. 
I also liked the relationship between Audrey and Daniel.  The beginning did feel a little unrealistic but I liked how their connection grew.  I also liked that the feelings between them weren't the typical YA feelings.  They were deeper, different, complex.  Beautiful.  
I don't really want to say too much about the other characters, because I really don't want to give anything away.  I liked that no one - not even Audrey and Daniel - were how they first appeared, how I always had to be on my toes.  I like that in a thriller!
A Special Echo Boy FanPic By Me!
The writing was also brilliant, although the lack of contractions bugged me a little.  I got the formalness in Echos and even adults, but teenagers?  Not so much.  Even so, I loved how we got to see through both Audrey and Daniel's eyes.  And I also loved how each word felt important, necessary and true – how they all had significance and opened up my imagination, as well as slowly painting the full picture.
I also loved the philosophical side of Echo Boy, all the moral issues, the deeper meanings and the emotions – it all just blew my mind!  I was just shocked by how utterly deep this book was: the more you think about everything brought up, the more there is to ponder.  I also seriously want to talk all things Echo and philosophical, so let me know if you're game for this!
However, I must admit that the beginning of the book felt weird for some reason - I don't really know why…  But I soon got over that, because this plot is brilliant.  It's like... a puzzle: we're given tiny snippets, piece by piece, until the whole picture slowly unravelled before our eyes.  I loved that.  And whilst the pace could be slow at times, it just added to the.  But that final quarter... wow!  The pace of that last bit was so different and makes me so excited for what is to come next!  So, people, if you're feeling like it's lagging, just hold on because Echo Boy really fights back with that last bit and it makes everything so worth it!
But the world building may have been my favourite part of the whole book: it is amazing!  This world... it's full of advantages, but they covered up a huge question: how can you hold onto your humanity when the world around you is so thoroughly lacking it?  The world, the technology and all the questions these raised intrigued me and I can't wait to read more about the world of Echo Boy.
So yes, Echo Boy was really not what I was expecting.  It was a million times better.  It’s the best sci-fi futuristic book I've read in a long, long time.  It is clever, thought-provoking, different, emotional, real.  It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me it was amazing.  It was made of the exact right amount of marvellous world-building, suspense and thought-provoking questions.  I loved Echo Boy and I honestly can't wait to get my hands on the second book.  I have a feeling that it'll be like the Empire Strikes Back...  

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Starters by Lissa Price
Partials by Dan Wells
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Happy Reading

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