At first glance there is not much original about Matt Haig’s ‘Echo Boy’. It covers well trodden ground with it’s central question of at what point AI becomes human. In addition, it borrows conspicuously from other YA fiction, with recognisable tropes such as the orphan searching for the truth about her parents’ death; the evil uncle offering sanctuary; the unpleasant cousin; the post environmental disaster setting; and the scary mechanical dogs. However, I did not mind the lack of originality at all for this is a perfectly executed YA sci fi romance book, it uses these tropes remarkably well and is a fantastically enjoyable read.
Matt Haig’s writing style is great. It is not over-simplified or condescending to the younger audience. He drops plot hints early on and then reinforces them more clearly later in the book in case you did not pick up on them the first time around. The plot is fast-paced and exciting and the characters are well-drawn, in particular Audrey the lead female character is well-rounded and her motivation is always clear.
The book is set about 100 years in the future and follows Audrey whose parents are killed by an android and who escapes to live with her uncle who is the owner of the company which makes the androids. There she meets Daniel, an android who makes her re-evaluate her feelings towards androids.
This is an example of YA fiction writing at it’s best. It covers big ideas, relates them to our current times and is also a thrilling and thought-provoking read. I really enjoyed it. I would have preferred a slightly more ‘everything tied up in a neat bow’ ending, but I wonder if it is left slightly open-ended to allow for the possibility of a series. I would happily read more books set in this universe with these characters.