The Blurb On The Back:
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 seems important.
Boot is scared but tries to be brave, which is hard when your screen keeps showing a wobbly, worried face. Luckily Boot meets Noke and Red who have learned to survive in secret.
With its new friends by its side, Boot and the gang set off on a dangerous adventure to find their way home.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
It’s the future and almost everyone has a robot of some description.
When Boot wakes up on the conveyer belt to a crushing machine in a scrap yard, he has no idea how he got there. He knows that he belongs to Beth, that Beth loves him and that he needs to find his way back to her because he has her butterfly pendant. He also knows that Flint, the man who runs the scrap yard, hates robots and will do whatever it takes to get Boot back so that he can break him for good.
As Boot makes his way back to Beth, he encounters new friends Noke (a rubber robot who has seen better days), Poochy (a robot dog who doesn’t respond to commands) and Red (a beautiful robot with an incredible singing voice but an unfortunate tendency to explode when it overheats). But the road to Beth is dangerous and full of adventure and Boot will learn some sad secrets along the way …
Shane Hegarty’s science fiction novel for children aged 7+ (the first in a series and illustrated by Ben Mantle) mashes up TOY STORY with WALL-E in a cute but slight tale of identity, loss and belonging. However while Boot is an intrepid robot battling against adversity, his story didn’t really spark for me, mainly because it hits so many familiar beats and the supporting cast feel by-the-numbers.
Boot is a likeable enough main character, struggling to remember who he is and what his purpose is. I liked his determination and his concern over how he’s sustained some damage, which makes him anxious about what Beth will think about him. However there is something about the character that was just too meet-cute for me and although the target audience won’t pick up on a lot of that, I found it all too familiar. Similarly, the main supporting character of the gruff and streetwise Noke was quite pedestrian for me (although his backstory was moving). Red was more interesting given their fear of exploding and how they counter it by chanting cooling mantras.
The world building is interesting though – I liked the depiction of a world where robots do a lot of mundane tasks and people are constantly glued to their screens. I also liked how this increased robot presence has made people like Flint fear for their jobs and therefore keen to destroy any robot they can get their hands on (a task made easier by the fact that robots cannot own themselves so any ‘unclaimed’ robots out on the street are basically fair game).
The plot took a little while to get going as Boot spends a fair amount of time wondering who he is and how he got to where he was but once he sets off, it moves fairly quickly. The illustrations by Ben Mantle are fun and really help to envision Boot and his world.
Ultimately, given this is a fairly straightforward reuniting story, the book didn’t really spark for me. It’s perfectly fine and I think kids who are into those type of Pixar films will enjoy it, but I’m not sure I’d rush to read the sequel.
BOOT was released in the United Kingdom on 16th May 2019. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.