Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Published: March 28, 2014
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Age Range: 9+
Rating: 5/5 stars
“Will stares up, too. The locomotive steams, her hot breath curling from the smokestacks atop the three-storey boiler. He can feel the tremor of her expectant power through the station platform, through the very air. Massive and black, she’s like something forged with lightning and thunder.”
Will Everett wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but after his family’s fortunes change, he finds himself with a first-class ticket for The Boundless. The longest, most glamorous locomotive in the world, it stretches more than eleven kilometres long and pulls an astounding 978 cars: passenger cars, shooting galleries, gardens, an onboard swimming pool, cinema and much more. But its maiden voyage won’t be a smooth ride for Will. After witnessing a murder during a station stop, he barely makes it back onto the train (with a running leap!), then must work his way from the caboose forward to his father in first class – with the murderer and his cronies on his tail. Luckily, a clever and nimble friend is perfecting her act in The Boundless’s circus car, and there the real thrill ride begins. Sasquatches, bog-dwelling has and illusions abound in this outsized middle-grade adventure.
The book begins with the final spike being driven into the ground for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and some of the characters present in the book, are iconic Canadian figures, who actually participated in the funding, building and running of the railway. It’s a lovely fictional piece for younger kids, to learn about Canadian history, that sadly might get missed in school.
Throughout his adventures, Will stumbles across the circus, and then a surprising murder, which sets the pace for the remainder of the book. Will, along with the eclectic cast of characters he meets throughout his journeys, must race against time to beat the killer to the front of the train, and warn the conductors, engineers, and ultimately his father as well.
I don’t think there are enough words to describe how much I loved reading The Boundless. I chanced out on a free copy of the book, and I normally don’t read 9-12, and I’d never read anything by Kenneth Oppel prior to. I have to say, if all his work is as fantastic as this book was, I’ll read his work again.
While the book is suggested for 9-12 readers, I would highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Canadian history, or has read Oppel’s previous works. Its a surprisingly quick read, and highly entertaining. There’s humour, adventure, danger, magic and strange circus characters who make this book an exciting adventure.