March 09, 2023

Oculum Echo: Guest review

This review was written by student Bronte L.
Written by Philippa Dowding
231 pp.
Ages 9-12

The robot Echo1 awakes from slumber and, with the help of Guide, a voice in its ear, and the robot bird Peregrine1, travels the continents’ four Oculum domes and the barren deserts. Echo1's task is to search for life and monitor the starting of a civilization of humans to make sure they don’t make the mistakes of the past. 
Outside of Oculum, Grannie’s farm is bombed, and Miranda1, Mannfred, and Grannie must lead the children originally from Oculum to safety. But their attackers, the UnRuly, are hunting them down, and they’ve got a new secret weapon. So, Grannie sends Mannfred and his friends to spy on the UnRuly, maybe even to try and stop them, but things soon go wrong. 
Meanwhile, after many weeks of travelling, Echo1 is starting to lose hope in finding life. Along the way, he learns much from his guide about Earth, humans, and his many special capabilities. But lots of questions remain unanswered, including what is life, what his name means, and what happened to the world of the Olden Begones? 

Oculum Echo by Philippa Dowding is the sequel to Oculum, the Silver Birch-nominated first book in The Children of Oculum series. It’s a middle school level dystopian, sci-fi novel, told from multiple points of view.  There's Miranda1, the oldest girl from Oculum, who now must help Grannie lead the rest of the children; Echo1, who is led by the voice in his ear and a robot bird that sends him videos of his surroundings; and Mannfred, who lived outside Oculum on the farm with Grannie before the UnRuly destroyed it. The book has important themes of leadership, curiosity, perseverance, collaboration, and showing the importance of taking care of our world and each other.

Although I haven’t read Oculum, the book before this one, it didn’t take long for me to become invested in the storyline. Each character’s experiences are so wildly different and inspirational in their own ways that it makes for quite a fun read! My favourite part of the book was definitely getting to see the world through Echo1’s and Miranda’s eyes. The lives they are accustomed to are so different from our current world, and, even though their Earth was mostly destroyed, there are hints at what it was like before the disaster, with playgrounds, paper, drum kits, pigs, fish, and all kinds of other things we take for granted. I would recommend Oculum Echo to any sci-fi loving kid that enjoys adventures. 

~ Written by Bronte L., Gr. 9

The Children of Oculum, Books 1 and 2

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