ebullient / Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen
e-BU-li-ent (‘bu’ as in ‘but’)
- cheerful and full of energy
- archaic (of liquid or matter) boiling or agitated as if boiling.
‘He was glad to see Gaia as ebullient as ever.’
Boy in the Tower
by Polly Ho-Yen
I first read this a year or two ago and have read it multiple times since. Though it’s suitable for children, it’s still complex and dramatic, with a wonderful exploration of a unique setting and likeable characters.
One of its more unusual aspects is its lack of a human antagonist. Instead, the villain is an otherworldly plant that entraps the characters in a deceptively calm apocalypse. The slow, controlled suspense provided by this environment provides a situation for the characters to drive the story themselves. Ho-Yen does a wonderful job of keeping this interesting, as relationships evolve and backstories are revealed. Ade’s mum is particularly intriguing, and Gaia provides a delightful counterpoint to the darker aspects of the novel.
I haven’t read many apocalypse novels, but I’m pretty sure Boy in the Tower is very unique in its take on the genre. There’s no blood or zombies or violent gangs. Instead the danger is subtle, and the plants have a beautiful uncanniness to them. This creates a slower, more unsettling suspense that lingers in the background, ever-present.
Rating: 4.4 / 5
Any recommendations for high-stakes kids books?
Have a wonderful day!