“Three hours before the avalanche hits, William Everett is sitting on an upturned crate, waiting for his father.” Kenneth Oppel’s The Boundless starts strong, gripping, and full of adventure, and the pace doesn’t let up until you’ve read the book cover to cover.
Five years after the avalanche that nearly killed him, an encounter with a terrifying yeti, and a near-theft of a precious gold railroad spike, Will and his father are on the Boundless, “the most magnificent train ever built.” Miles long and full of interesting folk, The Boundless hurtles through the Canadian north at breakneck speed. Will’s father is head engineer, and the two are traveling in first class. When Will gets off the train one night, he stumbles upon a murder, and he is spotted. In the ensuing chase, gets back on the train literally miles from the safety of first class.
Will must get back to his father with a murderer hot on his trail, but the murderer has friends who are just as eager to find Will–and his father–and get rid of them. With the help of various crew members, a circus ring master, and an escape artist, Will finds himself caught up in adventure and intrigue as the group makes their way through the train. However, nothing is as it seems…Will is a lightening rod for danger, and he surprises himself with courage and resilience as he jumps from one dangerous situation the next, always fighting to survive.
The Boundless blends fantasy, steampunk, Canadiana, and folklore into an engrossing adventure that is impossible to put down. Oppel does an amazing job of highlighting Canadian history, class struggles, and cool Canadian folklore in a way that is never pedantic or boring. I found myself coveting this book and recommending it to everyone in the Children’s Department! Canadian author Kenneth Oppel knows how to write fast-paced, thrilling books, and this is no exception. I highly recommend this book for middle-grades and older: I would even venture to say that this is the sort of book that teens and adults will love as well.