Review Blog

Jan 15 2014

Man made boy by Jon Skovron

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743315132.
It is almost inevitable that as our world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, face-to-face communication will become less favourable. This prophecy is more relevant now than ever, as we constantly toil to advance ourselves in that field.
It is also inevitable that in some way teenagers will always feel the social pinch and emotional punch of adolescence - this inherent angst has been exhibited in all settings where associated hormones are present.
Both our increased reliance on plug-in tools and our collective experience of youthful trial-and-error, are themes prevalent in Jon Skovron's Man made boy, although in story and style they are much simpler.
From the circuit-board font on the cover and the very first paragraph, this work exudes a tech-savvy and highly contemporary style, obviously as a means of updating the literary source it references so heavily: Frankenstein.
In its time, Mary Shelley's seminal novel was tech-heavy - nuts and bolts, elaborate scientific structure and a re-animation technique powered by good old fashioned lightning.
Now, we have a cyberpunk influence, with computer-age language littering the text. Somewhat surprisingly, this does not overshadow a very traditional writing style, but instead complements it.
In terms of story, Man made boy concerns an aptly titled teenaged hermit named Boy, and chronicles his experiences forming his own personality and coming to terms with other relevant emotional hurdles. In addition, Frankenstein-esque deformities have created a low self-esteem situation for Boy, preventing him from real interaction and exiling him to behind a computer screen.
Skovron has intentionally stripped our endearing protagonist of a proper name to comment on the teenager's inherent need to categorize themself and construct their personal traits. He makes clever, humorous and insightful commentary on the epidemic of technologically adept and addicted youth, and the potential social problems which arise.
Aside from the thought-provoking content, the narrative is thrilling and charming (and of course, full of knowing nods in jest to classic horror literature.)
This is Frankenstein updated for a new audience - its themes of creation, identity, isolation and misunderstanding still intact.
Man made boy is full of heart - re-assembled, stitched together and calibrated with a micro-chip - but heart no less.
Henry Vaughan (Student)

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