Review: The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout

 

Title: The Boy at the End of the World

Author: Greg van Eekhout

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

ISBN: 978-1599905242

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Fisher is the last boy on earth-and things are not looking good for the human race. Only Fisher made it out alive after the carefully crafted survival bunker where Fisher and dozens of other humans had been sleeping was destroyed.

Luckily, Fisher is not totally alone. He meets a broken robot he names Click, whose programmed purpose-to help Fisher "continue existing"-makes it act an awful lot like an overprotective parent. Together, Fisher and Click uncover evidence that there may be a second survival bunker far to the west. In prose that skips from hilarious to touching and back in a heartbeat, Greg van Eekhout brings us a thrilling story of survival that becomes a journey to a new hope-if Fisher can continue existing long enough to get there.

Review:

Wow, was this a great read!  I wasn’t expecting to have my socks blown off, but they were.  This is the perfect book to entice reluctant MG readers to read.  The pacing is swift, the characters are wonderful, and the suspense never takes a backseat as the plot progresses.  It keeps building and building, until it is impossible to put the book down.  And then when it was over, I wanted more!  The ending is very, very satisfying and this is a completely self-contained work, but I would so love it if we could revisit with Fisher again.

So, why is this book so awesome?  To start with, the characters have so much depth, and after Fisher starts off on his journey to survive, the reader becomes totally invested in his continued success at living.  It’s a harsh world that Fisher awakens to, and it’s scary and dangerous.  One false move and he’s failed his mission.  As the last human alive, it’s critical that he not give up and die.  And it is so hard to keep going when the world around him is so treacherous.  That alone kept me turning the pages; Fisher is at such a huge disadvantage that it doesn’t seem possible that he will live for more than a few days.  He turns out to be so much more resourceful than even his robot companion gives him credit for, and he survives one death defying mishap after another.

When the story begins, Fisher is abruptly jolted awake in his pod.  The Ark where he was born is under attack and is being destroyed around him.  He knows nothing.  It’s like he’s newly born.  He knows his name.  He knows the world is a dangerous place.  He knows he’s alone.  And that’s it! Na-da!  Nothing else to help this kid survive in a world gone mad.  As he flees into the wilderness, he’s joined by Click, a damaged custodial robot.  Fisher is the only one to make it out of the Ark alive.  He is alone.  He thinks he is the last human on the planet.

Fisher and Click set out on an adrenaline rushing adventure.  Fisher just wants to stay alive, but he hasn’t been given much in the way to help with this seemingly monumental task.  He has the personality of a fisherman, but no tools to fish.  As his journey continues, there is no place to fish, either.  He has a daily struggle to forge for enough to eat.  Even catching enough insects to satisfy his raging hunger is a challenge.  He never gives up, though, and that is what I loved about him.  In the face of such incredible odds, he never gives up. 

The other aspect of Fisher’s personality that I love is his loyalty.  He and Click encounter a baby mastodon, and instead of killing and eating it, Protein becomes a member of Fisher’s little entourage.  When Click or Protein are in grave danger, Fisher ignores his mission of staying alive and always tries to help his new friends, even when it puts his own life in peril.  He is one brave kid!  There were a few times when I thought that someone was going to meet an untimely end, but Fisher’s bravery and resourcefulness saved the day.  The book is so suspenseful that I didn’t want to put it down, so I didn’t!  I stayed up far past my bedtime to finish it, because I couldn’t bear to not know how things turn out for Fisher and his odd assortment of friends.

I am not saying much about the plot because I don’t want to reveal any spoilers.  That was another fun part of reading the book; I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.  The Boy at the End of the World is one of the best Middle Grade books that I have read this year; it was a wonderful escape from the stresses of real life, and I am looking forward to Greg van Eekhout’s next project.

Grade: A

Review copy provided by publisher