Greg van Eekhout’s The Boy at the End of the World is a gripping survival story featuring a boy and his robot. A woolly mammoth and a genetically-engineered prairie dog complete the motley crew. There is humour in this science fiction tale, but don’t let the dung-dropping woolly mammoth fool you. Serious issues arise throughout.
Far into the future the world is a barren wasteland when Fisher emerges from a gel-filled cocoon (age unclear, but I picture him around 12) with a disconcerting knowledge of the world. As far as he and Click, the robot assigned to protect him, can tell, he is the only remaining human. Click was not intended to be Fisher’s only guide and Fisher was not intended to be the only survivor. Thus they are lacking in some necessary survival skills. Click’s explanations of the world remind me of Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. Once Fisher realizes there may be some other survivors, he is determined to find them at all costs. Given that he can barely feed himself, this is quite an undertaking. Click is not at all convinced that it is the right thing to do, but is compelled by his programming to follow Fisher. The book is plenty interesting at this point, but the introduction of evolved robots determined to destroy all human survivors raises the stakes to a level that will really engage young readers.