I have made no secret of my love for Matt Haig's previous book, The Humans - not only was it my favourite book last year, it's also one of my favourite books ever. So I have been eagerly looking forward to reading Echo Boy ever since Matt first announced it was to be his next book. It's not due to be published until March but thankfully I was able to acquire an advance copy through Netgalley (I could pretend that I didn't obsessively check to see if my request was approved several times over the weekend but that would be a lie!) I downloaded it to my Kindle yesterday and finished it this morning and I'm happy to say that whilst this isn't The Humans it's a wonderful and moving book in its own right.
Echo Boy is set about two hundred years in the future, in a vastly different world to ours, climate change has meant some countries are partly or wholly underwater and some have become almost uninhabitable deserts, it's possible to cross the Atlantic in minutes, humans have colonised the moon and families are served by Echos (Enhanced Computerised Humanoid Organism), flesh and blood cyborgs hardwired to unquestionably obey orders. It follows the story of Audrey a fifteen year old girl who is forced to consider and reconsider everything she has been taught and learned to believe following the death of her parents, and Daniel an Echo who should be emotionless but instead feels a connection to Audrey and a desire to protect her from terrible danger. So it's going to be categorised as a sci-fi YA novel but genres really just tell you where to look for a title in a bookstore. What Echo Boy is actually about is love, loss, the fear of being alone, belief, pain and trust. It's about what makes some people monsters and what it is to be human. Matt Haig writes sentences that pierce my heart in one chapter and envelop me in a warm blanket of hope in another. Echo Boy is both a warning of what could happen if we allow technology to take the place of actual human interaction and a reminder of just how wonderfully flawed and complicated we can be. I loved it.
Echo Boy will be published on 27th March by Random House Children's Publishers UK.