The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

“Three hours before the avalanche hits, William Everett is sitting on an upturned crate, watching for his father. 
The town doesn’t even have a name yet. Nailed to a crooked post at the side of the train track is a messy hand-painted sign that says only: Mile 2553. Paint has dribbled down from the bottom of each number and letter. Yesterday when Will and his mother stepped off the train, the conductor shouted, ‘End of the line! Farewell Station!’ But Will wasn’t sure if Farewell was the town’s name or if the fellow was just in a hurry to say ‘Good riddance.’”

Its 1887. Three years ago Will’s life changed forever when he was asked to drive in the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The drive was followed by an avalanche that nearly killed him, his father and the boss of the railway, Mr Van Horne – but his father saved both his life and Van Hornes, and the family were rewarded by promotion after promotion. Now Van Horne’s vision for the grandest train to ever run has finally come to head and The Boundless is set to make her maiden voyage across the Railway, only he isn’t around to see it. Will ends up with a key to the most precious carriage of the Boundless’ 987, and as the train journey begins so does an adventure he will never forget. To survive Will must join the circus, entrust an expert escape artist and make his way up, over, and through the train without before trouble finds him. 

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This book was incredible. I always love historical fiction and this has its basis in history with the actual railway and its owners, with some of the characters within the books actual people from the time, including Van Horne and Smith right at the beginning. This was all just in the background and the real story is fiction, but thats all fine for me. It was a brilliant story with a lot to keep me on the edge of my seat. I loved that Kenneth Oppel wasn’t afraid to do what he thought would be right with the story even though it could upset a lot of people and the book didn’t have the typical ‘all is well’ feeling about it. The ending was brilliant and brought about a lot of emotion for me. 
I really enjoyed the writing but I will say that The Boundless was filled out a bit too much. The beginning was a little slow, however the ending does really make up for that. Once Will gets to the circus carriages things really heat up and I had trouble putting the book down. 
The characters are brilliant and I loved all of them. The good guys had a decent level of intrigue about them and the baddies were classical. There was a quote from The Times on the front of the proof that I read saying that any child who loves Indiana Jones or Tintin will love Kenneth Oppel’s work and I totally see where they are coming from. The Boundless did have that classic children’s book feel about it, and if Sunday afternoon family TV movies are still a thing I think it would make a brilliant one! 
Unique and gripping The Boundless definitely got my attention and as my first look into the authors work I am happy to say I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything else by him. I can easily see another story coming from Will Everett’s world – even though this one rounded off quite nicely – and would definitely pick it up if there was one! 

An adventure like no other, The Boundless will keep any young adult reader on their toes from first page to last.
The Boundless will be published on September 4th by David Fickling Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • I haven’t got my hands on this one yet, but I can’t wait to read it. If you’re just discovering Kenneth Oppel, you’re in for a treat! Try his Airborn series next, for more great classic adventure.