Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen
|Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Wonderful, wonderful story about a lonely boy, his agoraphobic mother and building-eating plants. That could never work, right? Wrong! It's a must read and you won't ever have read anything quite like it before.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: July 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children's Book Prize: Best Fiction for 5-12s
Shortlisted for the Children's Book Award 2016: Books for Younger Readers
Ade loves living on the top floor of his tower block. He and his mum can look out of their window and see the whole city stretching out before them. They see busy little ants of people below them and marvel at the tiny tubes of aeroplanes above them. But Ade's mum has stopped looking out of the window. She's stopped cooking meals and singing songs. She hasn't been out of the flat in months and spends most of her time asleep in bed. Ade isn't sure why, but he does his best to take up the slack.
And then the Bluchers appear - strange plants that eat buildings and kill people. And everybody leaves, including Ade's only friend, Gaia. And suddenly, the tower block doesn't feel safe any more...
Oh. Oh, oh, oh. I absolutely loved this story. The plot is a dystopian one - triffid-like plants are consuming and collapsing buildings and their deadly spores are preventing the emergency services performing a search and rescue. Everyone who can get out has got out but narrator Ade is stuck in the last remaining tower block because his mother can't go out. Ade is just a small boy and he is our narrator and so, while he is always truthful, he isn't always reliable because he doesn't fully understand what's happening.
Why is Ade's mother so afraid to go out? Are the Bluchers really eating the buildings? How are they killing people? Can anything kill them? How do you catch a pigeon? Why have Obi and Dory stayed behind, too? Is Ade's friend Gaia ok? And will Ade ever be rescued?
These are the questions that consume Ade, as he tries to cope while his world collapses around him. His is a wonderful narrative voice - this little boy pulls you into his world from the very first page and I defy you not to read his story in one sitting, rooting for him all the way. He copes with the awful loneliness of losing his only friend Gaia and then his mother - whose illness reduces her to a silent, ghostly presence - in quick succession. And when he finds friends in Obi and Dory, you almost weep with relief for him.
While the plot is part sci-fi, part fantasy and part dystopian, this little book is really a fable. It has a dreamlike quality and it's about love, friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. I loved it and I think you - whoever you are, whether you're aged eight or eighty - will love it, too. Boy In The Tower comes highly recommended by me. I think it might even be my favourite story of 2014 so far.
You might also enjoy The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson or Catcall by Linda Newbery, both of which feature children under great pressure. For more deceptively simple stories with powerful subtexts, try The Silver Donkey and The Midnight Zoo, both by Sonya Hartnett.
You can read more book reviews or buy Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen at Amazon.com.
Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen is in the Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2014.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.