By Matt Haig
Published by Bodley Head
Daniel is an Echo, a machine that is built as a servant for humans. Echoes look human, but don't experience all the emotions that people do. Matt Haig is a talented and imaginative writer, who does not disappoint with Echo Boy, a sci-fi saga from an author at the top of his game.
The futuristic world that Haig has created in this book is amazingly detailed and believable. We are in the year 2115, and, predictably, technology is the backbone of society. Earth has gone through wars, massive climate change and amazing technological advances during the past century - but has the human condition really improved?
Fifteen-year-old Audrey Castle's father is highly suspicious about the way technology has almost taken over human life. He is particularly concerned about the dangers that Echoes, humanoid robots, pose to mankind's future. Very few people share his views, and even though Audrey has been brought up to surround herself with old-fashioned things like music, books and dreams, her father fears for her future.
Mr Castle's worries prove to have been frighteningly on-point when an Echo he reluctantly bought to help the family turns violent and inexplicably kills both him and his wife. This is the start of a nightmare for Audrey. She flees the family home and is taken in by her millionaire uncle who owns a company that manufactures Echoes. But could he have had something to do with the death of her parents?
Alex Castle lives in a fortified mansion on the outskirts of London, and his home is packed with all the latest technology. Here, Audrey meets Daniel, the Echo boy of the title, and her life takes an unexpected turn.
Daniel may be one of millions of manufactured servants, but he has been made differently to all those that have rolled off the production line before him. What is his agenda and why does he feel a deep connection to Audrey when he is supposed to be a machine that has only been built to serve?
Echo Boy is a book that is big on ideas, action and plot. This thrilling book is one of the best in its genre.
Haig knows how to create both plot and characters that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. But the action and storyline also throw up questions that we should all be pondering. This inventive and gripping novel could very well be a warning as well as a classy and thrilling read.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com