Title: Echo Boy
Author: Matt Haig
Release Date: February 6th 2014
Publisher: Random House
My star rating: 4 stars
**Warning: Contains Some Spoilers**
I was excited to receive a copy of Echo Boy by Matt Haig as the concept sounded intriguing, and it turned out to keep me as entertained as I hoped.
MC, Audrey is distraught over the murder of her parents and needs support and guidance. However, nobody is who or what they seem, and support doesn’t always come from the places she expects it to, and help comes from the last place she’d imagined.
Alongside her is Daniel, an Echo—intelligent robots designed to fit in with humans as assistants to their lives, their work, or whatever else the population decides they need them for. However, it was an Echo that murdered Audrey’s parents, and her instant distrust to these ‘beings’ is a huge hurdle that must be overcome—especially if they’re both to survive.
Expectedly, it takes a while for Audrey to understand that Daniel isn’t like other Echoes. He’s a prototype, the first and only of his kind, and the first and only Echo to feel. And he does feel. He feels something for Audrey that he doesn’t understand.
Okay, the good points:
The writing style. I loved how this was told through what was referred to as ‘Mind-Logs’, so the reader basically gets all of the information stored by and processed by the brain of the POV—which was either Audrey or Daniel as it was dual POV, though Audrey definitely dominated this book with her chapters.
Audrey’s character. Her pain and confusion and entire attitude toward the death of her parents felt real and believable. Her voice appeared authentic to her age and intelligence level. And from the very beginning of the book, I found her easy to connect with and cared about what happened to her.
Daniel. His chapters tend to hold a more common solemnity that sets the tone for his character from the off, and the reader just knows his journey won’t be an easy one, and that something bad is most probably going to occur.
The plot—it was easy to follow, despite the sci-fi elements of the book which I usually struggle with), and I know always what was happening. It was also different to anything else I’ve read, and I love a bit of uniqueness in my reading material.
The character cast. From the off, we’re guided into assessing every single character we encounter via Audrey or Daniel, measuring them, their intents and purposes and which way they will steer. I always enjoy characters who force me to figure them out, even when I turn out to be correct.
The outcome. It wasn’t an easy outcome, and occurrences took place in order for it to be reached that left me saddened, or worried that the end goal might slip from their sights. And whilst the book was wrapped up tightly enough to be a standalone, I’ve enjoyed spending time with these characters enough that I would truly love to see a follow-up book release, with further details of their journey I expect would be ongoing, as well as the developments within this unusual relationship.
And finally onto the not so good points:
The romance. Whilst it wasn’t all hearts and flowers and snogs behind the bike sheds, this was ultimately a definite romance. But I felt this happened to easily. The feelings built far too easily and far too fast without enough substance to back them up. I could perhaps excuse this where Daniel is concerned, seeing as he isn’t an actual human, but with Audrey, I believe there should have been a lot more to support this element of the story than we were given.
But overall? Yeah, Echo Boy is definitely worth checking out as it’s an enjoyable read. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Mr Haig produces a book 2.
His novels for adults are The Last Family in England, narrated by a labrador and optioned for film by Brad Pitt; The Dead Fathers Club (2006), an update of Hamlet featuring an 11-year-old boy; The Possession of Mr Cave (2008), about a man obsessed with his daughter's safety, and The Radleys (2010) which won Channel 4's TV Book Club public vote and was shortlisted for a Galaxy National Book Award (UK). The film rights to all his adult novels have been sold. His next adult novel is The Humans (2013).
His multi-award winning popular first novel for children, Shadow Forest, was published in 2007 and its sequel, The Runaway Troll, in 2009. His most recent children's novel is To Be A Cat (2012)