Anh Do (text) and Chris Wahl (illustrator), Lightning Strike (E-Boy #1), Allen & Unwin, March 2020, 217 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760877521
Another series of books by Anh Do – and this time, it’s about adventure in the age of technology. Lightning Strike is the first in this new series and completely different to the Anh Do books I have previously read and reviewed – the comedic stories of Weir Do and Hot Dog. The E-Boy series is for those readers who enjoy a bit of mystery, a lot of action and some futuristic concepts. And it’s a wild ride at times.
Throughout Ethan’s young life, he has spent time in hospital undergoing numerous operations for varied and serious medical conditions. This has prevented him from doing the things young people like to do – going out with friends, joining in activities and, his favourite past time, computer coding.
Finally, Ethan’s health improves in his early teens and he starts to enjoy being with friends and family. He is especially pleased to spend more time on his computer. At last, he can do the things a regular teenage boy would wish for – that is, until the headaches start. Ethan needs another operation – on his brain – the last thing he wants. But the operation doesn’t go to plan. A spectacular storm erupts all around the hospital while Ethan is undergoing surgery; the operating theatre is struck by a massive bolt of lightning. As Ethan regains consciousness following the operation, he senses something has changed within him; he feels different – but what sort of different?
The pace of Lightning Strike is fast and furious. It’s a page-turner with never a dull moment in this character-driven adventure about a young man, mature beyond his years, who is trying to make sense of his place in the world – a very different world. The futuristic references and out-of-this world material Anh Do has put together in this book makes for a very satisfying read which is sure to raise the curiosity of its readers. The remarkable rendition of Chris Wahl’s graphic illustrations certainly adds to the drama of the story. Each drawing is beautifully executed within a bold black, grey, white palette. The dynamic visual representation of the characters is combined with abstract design elements to enhance the tension.
In Lightning Strike the text and drawings combine perfectly to bring the story to life on every page; that is until the very last page. Without giving too much away, we can only hope E-Boy Book Two is on its way soon.
Reviewed by Jennifer Mors