Publisher:Puffin (an imprint of Penguin)
Release Date:June 2006
Format: Paperback , 324 pages
Cover love? The copy that I read had a shiny purple cover, and was very awesome. However, I prefer this cover because it is more reflective of the action and adventure in this novel. It's also more enticing and scifi-ish
'Come closer, leaders. Come closer and see.'
The children gathered around. The Professor was holding something that looked like a helmet. But it wasn't shaped like any helmet they had ever seen before . . .
One Monday, Will Buster is sitting through another dull history lesson about the Wizard Wars of the 21st century, when he discovers that he has been selected for the opportunity of a lifetime. Or that's what his parents seem to think.
A high-speed HoverPod whisks Will away to Professor Alphonse Gelmet's Academy of Leadership Excellence. Here, special helmets effortlessly deliver information into the students' brains. Without doing any work at all, they'll become encyclopaedias of knowledge!
But what is it exactly that Will and his classmates are learning? And who's to say the Helmet isn't doing other things to their minds?
- from Penguin's site
For lovers of sci-fi, and new converts (from the Hunger Games), Will Buster is a piece of children's fiction set in the far-off future, where the 21st Century had been dominated by the Wizard (Harry Potter induced) Wars, and children learn this history through computer teachers. People whiz around the air in HoverPods, and are served food by RoboChefs.
When Will Buster is given a mysterious scholarship to Professor Gelmet's Academy for Leadership, he is mystefied to learn that they will "learn" through helmets that feed knowledge directly into their minds. In other words, no studying or learning is required. A dream come true, right? Will thinks so...until he learns that something deeply sinister is happening at the school. His friends' personalities change, and students are mysteriously expelled as Will begins to discover the mind-altering truth...
I've always been a lover of sci fi, and so the concept of this book inevitably drew me in. Odo Hirsch is well-known for his Hazel Green series, and even when stepping out of his normal genre, he writes with the exceptional skill of a children's author - he uses simple concepts and fantastic imagination to immerse complex themes and an excellent story into children's minds.
The setting - in the futurem - is excellently drawn. Hirsch focuses primarily on painting his world through new technology: intelligent Robots, futuristic games, the Helmet, the HoverPod modes of transportation. This was imaginatively and fantastically thorough. However, this story could have been more amazing with expansions into other various aspects of the future with expansion on, for example, culture, language and world affairs. But it's a children's story, and so this is understandable.
The plot behind the series was also brilliant - it's a little Harry Potter, but instead of fantasy, it's science ficiton. It's also a little Ender's Game, but where EG is an adult book where child geniuses are manipulated by conniving adults at Battle School, Will Buster is a children's book where children are manipulated by conniving adults armed with Helmets into becoming geniuses.
Will Buster takes a good theme, gives it a little mix, spreads on icing, adorns it with chocolate sprinkles and transform a great idea into a fantastic and addictive story.One of my all-time favourite children's books.