E-Boy: Lightning strike by Anh Do

cover image

Illus. by Chris Wahl. Allen and Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760877521.
(Age: 10+ years). Recommended. E-Boy begins with Ethan, a teenage boy, in hospital for his fourteenth operation in eighteen months. He has a brain tumour and this final operation is his last hope. Dr Penny Cook has designed and programmed a medical android, named Gemini, to operate on Ethan. This is top secret and Ethan and his family have signed confidentiality papers.
The operation takes place during a violent storm and with one percent of brain connections to go, a bolt of lightning strikes the facility. The electricity surges into Gemini and then into Ethan. The operation appears to have worked brilliantly for Ethan and he goes home. However Ethan realises he has developed a super power and affinity with computers and feels like he can see inside and manipulate any computerised item. This new skill leads to some poor choices by Ethan, danger for his family and the beginning of life on the run from the authorities.
Meanwhile Dr Cook and Gemini are under the ever watchful eye of a People's Service Agent. After the success of Ethan's operation the agent decides to use Gemini in the Sharo Desert where a war is being fought. Gemini begins to question what he is being programmed to do in the desert, as he was originally programmed to heal, which leads to his memory being erased after every dangerous and dastardly desert task.
The two complex and fast-moving plots of Ethan and Gemini run parallel and they meet for a final showdown. It is full of tension and action with the reader left wanting to read the second book in the series to find out what happens next. The lightning bolt has obviously caused a change to both Ethan and Gemini's brain connectors and the question is: are they half-human or half-robot?
Anh Do has written a fast-paced and dynamic story which readers of his other series will enjoy. The illustrations are spread throughout the book and provide interesting and supportive visuals for the reader. Reading group notes are available. Themes: Robots, Androids, Good vs Evil, Fighting, Computers, Family, Illness.
Kathryn Beilby