One of my first book recommendations for UKS2, or Year 7, when asked is always Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen, so needless to say I was absolutely DELIGHTED when this dropped through the postbox!
Billy is used to how his mum acts; she is obsessed with survival and he’s got used to spending time learning how to follow the rules of survival. To most people, these rules might seem unnecessary, but Sylvia is sure that not only are they important to know, but one day she and Billy will have to use them to save their lives. Lately, she has been even more sure that someone is following them, which is making Billy feel a little unsure of their life together.
When Sylvia ends up in hospital, Billy goes to live with his dad. He feels he has to keep his survivalist life a secret. That is, until he meets his friend Anwar. Together, they continue learning skills which will one day, keep them safe. A day that is coming much sooner than either of them ever imagined…
Ho-Yen has got a thrilling way of writing books. She builds suspense, leaving chapters on cliffhangers that will keep the reader begging for more. Good luck putting this book down before you reach the end!
Billy has a life that originally feels very lonely; seeing the development of his character throughout the book as he learns who to trust was really heart-warming. His relationship with Sylvia is really interesting and I really enjoyed her as a character; I felt as though this was a really fresh-feeling story. Whilst survivalism is not something many children may have heard of, the other main themes of mental health and separated family will allow the reader to build empathy and explore experiences.
As usual, there is a sci-fi twist in Ho-Yen’s writing that is exciting. Her books were, along with Christopher Edge, stories that showed me sci-fi doesn’t always have to be Star Wars style space books; I am sure it will open the genre to other readers, as it did for me.
If you like the sound of this book, buy it here.
📚 Book gifted by publisher.