My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a interesting grab bag of genres this turned out to be. Starts off as a sci-fi/fantasy, then morphs into a kind of quest, and then turns again into a high-tech thriller. Man Made Boy is definitely not a novel that can be placed in one genre alone. This, of course, makes it accessible for a number of readers, and that is great because I really enjoyed this book.
Boy is 16 going on 17, and has lived all his life in the theatre his parents, and a group of “monsters”, call home. The Monster and The Bride constructed Boy (which is interesting in itself and probably material for a whole other book) to complete their family and his day to day life consists of running errands and fixing any computer or technology issues the company might have. He is quite a dab hand at programming, and has all the same issues as a “real” boy would have. He likes a girl (Liel), but is worried about how he looks (he has stitched skin everywhere); he wants to know what the world outside is like, but he is restricted by his parents.
Everything changes when Boy is allowed to accompany Ruthven, the head of the company, out into the world of humans. Once he has met humans, Boy is determined to leave the Theatre and live in the human world. He gets the address of an online friend and starts his adventure. Before he leaves, he releases some computer code he has been working on into the ether. When nothing seems to happen he forgets about it and sets about making a life for himself on the “outside”.
Weird things start to happen. Firstly Liel turns up and wants to live with him, then his roommate diappears without a trace. Money starts arriving inexplicably in the mail for him. Then a female presence starts talking to him through his computer – and other technology. This becomes a problem, and then things get even more complicated when he meets other “monsters” and is coerced into a road trip with the granddaughter of Jekyll/Hyde.
I won’t reveal anymore plot here, but there are many twists and turns along the way for Boy and his companion. So many touchstones of adolescence appear in this book it could have dissolved into cliche, but it doesn’t. In fact, it is gloriously unsentimental, but also engaging and clever.
I certainly have never read anything quite like it and I imagine once word gets out, this would make a fabulous movie.
Suitable for ages 14 and up, I urge you to read this one. You won’t be sorry.