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BOOK REVIEW: Boot by Shane Hegarty, illustrated by Ben Mantle

Released: May 2019
Publisher: Hachette
Format: Paperback
RRP: $14.99
Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Rating: 2/5

For fans of WALL-E and Toy Story, comes a heart-warming, humorous adventure about a young robot trying to find its way home. 
Beautifully illustrated throughout, Boot is a special book you will want to treasure and share.

When toy robot, Boot, wakes up at a scrapyard, it has no idea how it got there and why it isn’t with its owner, Beth. It only has two and a half glitchy memories, but it knows it was loved, which means something important to humans.
Boot soon realises its emotions make it different to other robots, who just function and don’t think. Boot is scared but tries to be brave, which is hard when its screen keeps showing a wobbly, worried face. Luckily Boot meets Noke and Red – other ‘advanced’ robots who have learned to survive in secret.
With its new friends by its side, Boot is determined to find Beth and the gang set off on a dangerous adventure. Everything Boot thought it knew about the world is changing and things aren’t as simple as it remembers . . .

Boot is a story that will take you by surprise and make you think about the world around you.

Boot is the kind of story that should really be one of this reviewer’s favourites of all time, what with the focus on robots, friendship, a ragtag group of friends, and messages about consumerism and loyalty.

Unfortunately, the book doesn’t quite pull it off.

It has elements that should make for an engaging, humorous, and heartwarming read, but I had to push to make any progress in the story and eventually caved and got the audiobook so I could listen to it at double speed and just get it over with.

The humour was mostly forced and felt like it was talking down to the middle grade demographic, something this group tends to spot quite easily.

I was fifteen metres away and sliding fast. I knew danger when I saw it. That’s because I actually saw the word DANGER flashing in my vision – big red letters and a high-pitched alarm, warning me I could lose my head to the falling rubbish.
I didn’t want to lose my head. I would have been able to replace an arm, perhaps. Or my right butt-cheek. But not my head.

The heartwarming element was also missing, as the writing just lacked emotion, making it hard for this reader, and lover of well-written middle grade, to really invest in the characters or the outcome of the story.

I bought the audiobook to make it through the final 100 pages of an illustrated middle grade book with fewer than a third of the words per page that most adult novels have, and that speaks volumes about my experience with this book.

This might be a good read for kids on the lower end of the middle grade spectrum (8-12 years old), but would likely likely annoy those with stronger reading ability within the same age group.

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