‘E-Boy’ by Anh Do (Review)

It’s a good job that my little helper Hayley enjoys reading as she’s been bombarded with books this year, mainly from Australian publisher Allen & Unwin.  Of course, it helps when most of them are by her favourite writer, Anh Do, and today sees her finally getting around to reviewing another of the author’s series, one that’s so far stretched to three books (and a couple of cameo appearances…).  Have you ever heard of someone described as having a ‘mind like a computer’?  Well, what if that wasn’t just a simile but an accurate description?  Come this way, and let Hayley introduce you to a very remarkable boy…

What’s the name of these books, and who are they by?
The series is called E-Boy, and it’s written by Anh Do and illustrated by Chris Wahl.

What are they about?
It’s about a boy called Ethan, and in the first book, he gets a tumour removed from his brain by Gemini, a medical android.  However, the building loses power after it is struck by lightning, and Ethan is also hit and gets powers to hack into any electronic device.  But Gemini got hit as well, and he becomes more human and has more thoughts, and the government wants him to themselves to try and catch Ethan.  Now Ethan and Penny, the doctor who was helping Gemini with the operation, have to run away from Gemini because the android wants to kill them!

Did you like this series?  Why (not)?
Yes, because it was pretty exciting.  It was a bit confusing at the start of the first book, but then as I read more of the series, I came to understand it.  Ethan is also pretty smart, but sometimes he’s also a bit embarrassing, and Gemini is wise and scary, and doesn’t know which side he should be on.

What was your favourite book so far?
Probably the third book (E-Boy 3: Enter the Jungle) as it has the most animals in the book!

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
Yes, but young readers might need some help at the start of the first book.  Other than that, it’s a pretty good series.

Hayley, thank you very much 🙂

Yes, it’s yet another Anh Do series, and hero, with today’s choice providing a slightly different twist on children’s adventure.  This time we have a computer-mad boy who becomes slightly computerised himself, something the authorities are not too happy about, to say the least.  Hayley was a little hesitant to try this series at first (partly because of the boy protagonist!), but she eventually decided to give it a go, and was very happy she did.

E-Boy has all the usual good versus bad undertones, but the series is this time given added momentum by the fact that Ethan is not only on the run from the authorities, but from something far more sinister:

Even so, Gemini now… felt better.  Felt.  Felt.
A new directive appeared in Gemini’s programming.  In his damaged state he couldn’t tell if he had created it, or if his masters had sent it to him…
E-Boy, p.216 (Allen & Unwin, 2020)

I’ll hold off on revealing the exact wording of Gemini’s new directive, but I suspect that most parents would be experiencing major Terminator vibes here, with poor Ethan pursued by a cyborg with rather unambiguous orders.

Another difference here is that Ethan isn’t always the 100% super-clean hero you might expect, and Do tackles the ethical dilemmas of his protagonist’s new-found abilities.  Yes, the boy is able to hack anything, but should he?  We actually got a glimpse of possible consequences in a book from a different series, Skydragon, when an old man’s house is raided after Ethan uses his computer remotely.  It’s only a book, of course, but it’s a reminder to everyone out there – be cyber-safe, kids!

The E-Boy series, with its driving force of Gemini’s pursuit of Ethan, is a great story in its own right, but the books also give us more hints of crossover potential.  Quite apart from the scene mentioned above, and the familiar government agents in the background, there are hints of different series here.  For example, E-Boy 2: Robofight, which features a robot-fighting world cup as the backdrop for the story (a plotline many readers will enjoy in its own right!), sees a familiar character from Rise of the Mythix make an appearance, and I can also confirm that there’ll be more slipping between ‘universes’ in future books.  I alluded to this in an earlier review, but it seems The Anhvengers are definitely go…

Overall, the E-Boy series gets Hayley’s seal of approval, and given the cliffhanger ending of the third book, she’s desperate to find out what happens next.  Still, the good thing about Do is that his next book is never far away, and my little helper has already been lucky enough to see another of his adventures land on our doorstep.  Which series will we be looking at next?  Patience, dear reader – we’ll let you know very soon 😉

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