A review by Nalini Haynes
E-Boy Ethan had a brain tumour but, thanks to Doctor Penny, he’s cured – or, at least, in remission. A lot seems to have happened in book 1! Suffice to say that, by book 2, Ethan is E-boy, a superhero or antihero on the run from the evil president of Titan. His surgeon, Doctor Penny, wants her robot assistant, Gemini, back. The president uses Gemini in the robofight in an attempt to win the support of the nation for a war with a rival nation.
So, yeah, it’s complicated.
Ethan is quite happy to steal to get around, get accommodation and get fed. Doctor Penny tries to rein him in, pointing out that, when Ethan takes something electronically, someone else pays the price. This is a lesson a lot of adults need to learn so I’m impressed how Anh Do weaves this into Robofight.
Ethan had a brain tumour and was, apparently cured. Or is he? In Robofight, he starts having bleeding noses. So perhaps his brain isn’t quite as fixed as they thought or perhaps are caused by his newfangled superpowers (that aren’t explained in book 2, for that you need book 1). The little portion of this saga that I’ve read – book 2 in a series – is too little to base any judgement about representation of disability although it raises concerns.
Two villains – the president and a mad scientist type – are morbidly obese. And they complain about stairs, while those who aren’t overweight don’t seem to have a problem with endless flights of stairs. Linking gluttony to weight problems and weight problems to villainy is shorthand consistent with ableism. I’d like to see better.
E-boy Robofight uses familiar tropes like robowars, an evil president in a fictitious Hunger Games-ish future society and an evil government chasing superpowered child like in Dark Angel. Anh Do wraps it all up in an iBoy package while writing for a primary school aged audience. With its simple storyline, fast-paced plot and splodeys, E-Boy is perfect for primary school aged kids, high schoolers who read widely and reluctant readers.
E-Boy will get kids reading and keep kids reading. My son was a fussy reader in primary school but he loved Robowars on TV. He would have loved this book when he was the right age.
Read E-Boy 2: Robofight if you enjoy any of Anh Do’s books for children like Wolf Girl.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Imprint: A&U Children’s AD (Allen & Unwin)
Format: Paperback – B format, 264 pages
Released: January 2021
Age: 10 – 14
Category: Children’s, Speculative Fiction