This is the third book I have read by Matt Haig and after The Radleys and The Humans I had high hopes. The idea of the book is a good one; it’s set in the future and a robot has been developed that looks like a human but is not. They’re made of flesh and blood but have a chip implanted in their brain which switches off emotion and makes them able to process information at an amazing rate. Most Echoes are modern day slaves; people use them in their homes to cook and clean, educate their children and do all the menial tasks that they don’t want to do.
The main character is called Audrey Castle. Her father is a journalist who writes articles and books about the dangers of the Echoes. If they are able to develop and gain control of their own minds then they could be dangerous. Her uncle is Alex Castle, a multi millionaire who has developed the echoes and controls a huge proportion of them. He is in direct competition with a Japanese company who are also making and developing the ‘echo’ technology. Her father and her uncle don’t get on.
After a car accident that has badly effected her fathers health, Audrey’s mother decides that they should buy an echo to help them round the house – her father is against this and gives Audrey the deciding vote. She agrees that it would be useful to have one and, instead of buying a Castle Echo they purchase one of the Japanese ones. Within weeks, while Audrey is having a lesson in her pod, the Echo brutally murders both of her parents and then tries to kill her. She manages to escape and is fleeing the house in her parents’ ‘magcar’ when her uncle coincidentally rings her and directs the car to his house. Chaos ensues.
At her uncle’s house she meets an echo called Daniel, he is a prototype that her uncle has had developed by his main developer, a Spanish lady called Rosella. Rosella has lost a child in infancy and decides to implant Daniel with a tiny speck of his DNA to see whether he will be any different. Daniel, although able to do all the things that an Echo can do (like count how many hairs you have on your head) can also feel emotion and empathy, and immediately tries to tell Audrey that something sinister is going on.
I enjoyed this book, it was fast paced. I liked the characters and the intrigue. Although it wasn’t difficult to figure out what had happened I liked the way in which it was drawn out. Daniel was a sympathetic robot and although you did wonder how it was all going to end you still want them to have a happy ending. The section in the zoo is well written and quite harrowing, and the description of the colony on the moon really felt like it could happen. The end is also left hanging so you could write a sequel, and the film would definitely be a hit. Haig writes books that really make you think about what the future could be like, they are believable and although a little scary, almost make you want to get there and experience it!