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.
That was exactly what happened with Echo Boy. I loved his last book, The Humans, so much that I didn't even read the synopsis before I bought it, and I still didn't look at it before I started reading.
I trust Matt to write an amazing story, and this book cemented that trust further.
Echo Boy is set just over a hundred years in the future, where global warming has made some areas of the planet too hot and hostile to inhabit. Some areas are flooded, completely submerged under water – areas like the north of Britain, for example, where Audrey lives with her parents, in a house on stilts. Thanks to the invention of these 'floating' buildings and magrails (a bit like tram rails, but much better, where you can travel from London to New New York – the original was destroyed by the extreme weather conditions – in less than an hour in a good magcar) it is still possible to live in some of these places.
Audrey Castle, niece of Alex Castle (one of the most powerful people in the world, owning even the police force), daughter of Leo Castle (one of the most prominent anti-Echo protestors, and Alex Castle's brother) lives with her parents in a 'floating' home above the water in the north of England. But Audrey's world is about to be turned upside-down, and she will have to face things far more frightening than she ever imagined. But what she finds the most frightening is not what she expected.
Echo Boy is one of the most imaginative books I have ever read. It is punctuated throughout by Matt Haig's awesome command of the English language and by his seemingly limitless wit.
I have not come across many authors who are as great a wordsmith as he is. The story is beautifully written; emotive, so descriptive that I can easily picture the strange futuristic world in my mind, and incredibly compelling.
But the imagination behind the story is especially striking. The picture of the future world in which this story takes place is incredibly vivid; there are cars that travels at thousands of miles per hour, info-lenses that give details of the world around you (and can even take pictures of what you see), pods that allow you to travel anywhere in space and history, and (this is my favourite) low fat foods are known to be bad for you and chocolate is an acceptable breakfast choice. Everything about the world feels alien and strange, and yet it also feels incredibly real. It feels alive.
And this goes for the story too. Although I saw some things coming (and these were really just the logical way for the book to go), I still enjoyed seeing them happen, and I was still kept engaged in the story. I loved every moment of it.
Not only did the world feel real, so did the characters. Audrey was incredibly real, and I found myself thinking about her even when I wasn't reading the book at the time. The same goes for Daniel, the Echo boy who seems to be more than just a little different.
There are good guys and bad guys, but not all of them are as clear-cut as you might think, and I had fun trying to work out which side some of the characters were on.
The characters really bought this book to life.
Sometimes it can be hard to write a review for a book I really love. I feel pressured to get across just how much I loved it and exactly why I feel the way I do; to make other people want to read it too. There are some books that I love so much that I worry my review does not do them justice. This is one of them. All of Matt Haig's books belong to this category. If I had to choose just one author who really stands up above the rest, for me, it would be Matt. For oh, so many reasons.
Echo Boy is yet another of Matt Haig's masterpieces. It is compelling, it is imaginative and it is intelligent. And above all it is beautiful. If you are going to choose just one book to read this summer, or even this year, I implore you to make it one by Matt Haig. You can thank me later.
Another beautiful Haig masterpiece.