Anh Do must be one of Australia’s most prolific authors at the moment – I feel like he has something new out all the time. I haven’t read his lower primary books – like the WeirDo or Hot Dog series – but I have picked up some of his newer middlgrade/YA books – including his most recent release, E-Boy
Part human. Part robot. All hero!
Ethan is supposed to be doing regular teenage things – like playing sports and hanging out with friends.
He is not supposed to be in hospital getting a brain tumour removed by Gemini, a high-tech android doctor.
But just as the operation begins, the medical facility is hit by an unusual bolt of lightning…
When Ethan wakes up he discovers that things are different. He’s always been good with computers, but now his skills are next-level. Ethan almost feels like he’s…part of the machine.
And what about the android Gemini? If Ethan is now part robot, does that make the robot part human?
Ethan will need all his new skills just to stay alive.
This was a pretty fun read that I think will really hit the spot in it’s target audience.
The plot sets a cracking pace, with a lot of action through out, and it has a great mix of humour and heavier issues.
I had a bit of trouble putting my finger on just what age group this should be recommended for. The Allen and Unwin website has it at 10-14 year olds, and I actually think it would work for reluctant readers a bit older than that too. The writing has a middlegrade feel in terms of the language, and the size of the font, length of the book etc, but also the characters are a bit older (Ethan is either at university or clever enough to be doing some study there) and there are some themes and plot points that could work for older readers, even though they are still suitable for readers at the lower end of that age range. For instance, Ethan has a crush on his doctor, he has friends in a romantic relationship, and we see some hints of political corruption. I think the inclusion of these sorts of themes could make this a great bridging book for readers who struggle a bit with reading and find that where the reading level of books suits them the content is too young – something I often see comments and recommendation requests around.
One of the key themes drawn out in the book is that classic sci-fi question of whether artificial intelligence can be sentient – what happens when the line between robot and person becomes blurry, and what rights does a machine have? I really enjoyed this element of the story, and I think this could really be a great starting point for interesting discussions with young people. Another great issue that I think is well handled, and could spark some good thinking, is about whether violence is ever justified – something that Gemini starts to ‘think’ about. For instance, is it ok to hurt ‘bad guys’ if you’re saving hostages? I think this is a wonderful seed to plant, and to get young people considering.
I think this series is going to be another hit. I think it will be a great bridging book for reluctant readers, particularly boys, to move into chapter books, and – to be honest – I’m quite interested to find out what happens next!
E-Boy byAnh Do
Source: Thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy for review. All views are my own.
Category: Middlegrade/Upper primary (ages 10+) science fiction adventure
Pages: 232 pages
E-Boy on Goodread.
Find Anh Do online here.