Saturday, 28 August 2021

How I Saved the World In A Week by Polly Ho-Yen and George Ermos (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E)

 July 2021, Simon and Schuster Children's UK, 384 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Book summary from Simon and Schuster

Rule number one: Always be prepared . . .

Billy’s mum isn’t like other mums. All she wants is to teach him the Rules of Survival – how to make fire, build shelter and find food. She likes to test Billy on the rules until one day she goes too far, and Billy is sent to live with a dad he barely knows.

Then the world changes forever as people begin to be infected with a mysterious virus that turns their skin grey. As chaos breaks out, Billy has to flee the city. Suddenly he realises that this is what his mum was preparing him for – not just to save his family, but to save the whole world. 

Nayu's thoughts

At secondary school one of the books I would borrow from the school library repeatedly for most of the time I was there was a whopper of a textbook all about survival, how to survive, what to do in multiple emergency situations. I was and am not into camping and trying to survive with limited tools for fun, but I find it all fascinating. You never know when skills will be useful! That's why I was intrigued to see where Billy's adventure would take him. It surprised me a lot. 

I felt sorry for Billy because his mum was different to others, and there were several times he seemed to crave normality that his mum couldn't give him. However it is because of how she brought him up that he was able to survive what felt like a zombie invasion. I hate zombies, they scare me a lot and I didn't like how the virus changed the people. I got scared when Billy was on the run from them, especially when he was almost cornered too. Some of the time he was on his own, but he was with his dad a fair too. Billy struggled because his dad was more of a typical parent than his mother was. He gave Billy space but he gave Billy structure to his life, regardless of it was wanted. Billy had to deal with his father having a girlfriend who had a daughter that Billy didn't like at all for most of the book. When it truly mattered, the fractured family did pull together and Billy's survival knowledge kept them all safe. 

There aren't many illustrations in the novel, but they certainly helped explain the tools/methods Billy used to survive. Some methods I knew but some where new to me. It was rather cool that Billy was able to share his knowledge with those he was with, and in time they accepted he knew more than them and let him teach them what to do. There is a positive ending to the book, the world does get saved too which was a relief. Billy's life will never be a typical childhood which, by the way, don't exist as we are all unique, but I would like to see him have another adventure with his strange family.

Find out more on Polly's website.

Suggested read 

If you like books about having to survive in strange lands check out Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China by Sherry Ellis (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E)


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