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Literature / The Boundless

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The Boundless is a Children's-to-Middle Grader's novel by Kenneth Oppel.

Will Everett is a young boy in 19th century Canada. His father, James Everett, is a railway worker helping lay the track for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is almost complete. On the job, Will's father has sent Will many letters describing the wonders he's seen in the Great White North, and of the creatures he's seen, like Sasquatches and Wendigoes. Reading about his father's adventures makes Will long to have an adventure of his very own.

Three years later, Will's father is now general manager of a new line of steamships, and the Everett's are a lot richer than they were. He's also one of the many engineers for the locomotive of the largest train in the world, The Boundless. 987 cars long, a locomotive with a 3-story boiler, and each car two stories high, and with each one serving a specific purpose (a theater car, a lounge car, storage cars aplenty). The Boundless is making its maiden voyage across the country, and Will has been invited to be a part of it, his father being a member of the staff and all. They even have first-class tickets to ensure that Will's father can stay close to the locomotive.

Once aboard the train, Will soon finds himself caught up in the big adventure that he's always wanted.

The book was published on April 1st, 2014.

The Boundless contains examples of:

  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: In the aftermath of the avalanche, Will sees a mother Sasquatch defending her child. She picks up Brogan and throws him so he skids across the snow and down the side of a gorge. The sasquatch is shot and killed by Mr. Van Horne.
    • Will then meets the now-grown child bigfoot in a circus car on The Boundless, and discovers it's been named Goliath.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The girl Will meets when he gets off the train at Farewell Station tells him that if he comes to her circus, to say to the man at the tent flap "Jeg inviterte", which is Norwegian for "I'm Invited". note 
  • Childish Tooth Gap: The girl Will meets at Farewell has a slight gap between her front teeth.
  • Circus Brat: The girl Will meets in Farewell is a tightrope walker for the Klack Bros. Circus. Her real dream is to be an Escape Artist.
  • Conjoined Twins: The Zirkus Dante on board The Boundless has Li and Meng Zhang, the stiltwalkers.
  • Cool Train: The Boundless, of course. A 987-car-long train with two-story cars, a massive locomotive to pull it, and each car serving their own functions.
  • Escape Artist: The Circus Brat Will met in Farewell is on the Boundless three years later, having achieved her goal. For her performance, she's tied up in ropes and chains and covered in a red sheet. When they unravel all of it, she's no longer there.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Will's father doesn't approve of his dream to be an artist, instead wanting him to join the company when he's old enough. They practically have an arguement about it on the Boundless.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Happens twice.
    • At the beginning, caused by all the cheer and gunfire from celebrating driving the Golden Spike into the rails, completing construction of the railway.
    • At the end, caused by the locomotive whistling loudly in the mountains.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Mr. Dorian gets a lot of flak for being Metis (Half-Native American/Half-French).
  • Off with His Head!: Goliath rips Brogan's head off his shoulders near the end of the book, and then sticks it on a tree.
  • Rags to Riches: In chapter two, Will's father was revealed to have been promoted after the avalanche, which meant a pay raise, which meant a bigger home for his family. He went on to get more promotions as time went on, to the point of being general manner of a new line of steamships by that point.
  • The Reveal: When everyone finally gets to the funeral car, Brogan reveals that, in addition to building the Canadian Pacific Railway, he and his fellow workers were tasked with finding gold in the mountains to save Cornelius Van Horne's business from going under. Brogan and his cohorts' plan was to get into the funeral car to take the gold in it.