The Boundless: It’s Boundless Entertainment
A Review By: Amelia
I love a good adventure story, but then again, who doesn’t? The intrigue, the fast-paced action, the inevitable love plot strew somewhere in there: it’s great. It’s especially great if it fills a specific niche. That’s where Kenneth Oppel shines!
Kenneth Oppel has written a couple young adult trilogies and a few stand alone novels, all of which are enthralling. He was born in British Columbia and has lived in Nova Scotia and currently lives in Ontario: he’s had a great Canadian experience and that’s where the niche comes in. With The Boundless he’s written an epic Canadian adventure full of Canadian mythology.
Will Everett has always wished for an adventure and on The Boundless, the longest, most glamorous locomotive in the world, he’ll find it. After witnessing a murder during a station stop he must work his way from the caboose forward to his father in first class - with the murderer and his cronies on his tail. Luckily, a clever and nimble friend is perfecting her act in The Boundless's circus car, and there the real thrill ride begins.
Like all of Oppel’s main protagonists, Will Everett and his love interest (well, I suppose she’s more of friend/side kick) are young adults. Will is waiting for his life to become full of adventure and worth living all the while trying not to disappoint his father who wants him to follow in his footsteps and be a railroad man. Will’s sidekick is Maren, an acrobat and escape artist travelling across country on The Boundless with her circus. Then there’s Mr. Dorian, the mysterious ringleader of the circus that’s training Maren to perform a certain task he desperately needs done. Each of the main characters have their own drives, quirks, and faults and are all very well rounded. But that’s with any Oppel book really, his characters never leave you wanting.
The characters are great but by far the most interesting thing about this story is the location: a train equivalent to the Titanic in size, luxury, and power. The Boundless is a train miles long with numerous classes, freight, and people upon it. The cars are three stories tall in first class with swimming pools and movie theatres and bars and anything else you could imagine the rich and powerful wanting. Third class is grim and overcrowded and supplies held in the grips of a profiteer’s hands. It’s a subtle way to show the injustice in the class system. You can get around the connected cars by doors but if you need to get around the miles of freight cars it’s the roof or nothing. It’s all very intriguing! And that’s not even mentioning the great Canadian landscapes the train travels through. There’s mountains and snow and marshes full of bog hags–Oppel painted an amazing picture with this one!
The Boundless has got everything: Canadiana history, fantasy, a splattering of romance, a hint of steampunk, and even a thoughtful examination of social injustice. It’s imaginative and on par with swashbuckling pirate action! The whole book is an action-packed love letter to the late 19th century True North!
My final thoughts on The Boundless are that it’s a thrilling ride. Oppel’s writing is always on point and with this story, his Canadian background makes for a great look into the Canadian landscape and legends including Sasquatches, the bog hag, and even wendigos. It wasn’t my favourite Oppel novel ever, but it’s a good addition to his catalogue and a good place to start if you’re just getting into Oppel!