Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Found via: Publisher's Weekly 2/15

When I saw this reviewed for Publisher's Weely, I vaguely recognized the author's name, but was more fixated on the description of "future steampunk" and happily put this on my TBR list. It wasn't until I saw Lynn & Cindy's review that I realized this was a prequel to another series that I've never read. Their review was published the day I started reading, coincidentally, so I was quite excited to dive in.

Fever Crumb was abandoned as an infant and discovered by the always-rational Dr. Crumb of the Order of Engineers. Dr. Crumb (quite reasonably) decided he couldn't leave the tiny babe bearing just the note HER NAME IS FEVER out in the wilds amidst the social unrest of the time, so he chose to raise her and make her the first female to join the ranks of the Order.

As a teenager, Fever is assigned to be a field apprentice to archeologist Kit Solent, a former Engineer who has specifically requested Fever's help in uncovering a major find related to the Scriven, the former overlords of London who believed they were the next step in human evolution but were overthrown around the time Dr. Crumb found Fever. Unfortunately for Fever, once she steps outside the safety of the Order, her differently colored eyes are considered the mark of a Scriven and a bounty is put on her head. While Kit tries to protect her, she's also troubled by the memories their work seems to be uncovering - memories that aren't her own and leave her with more questions than answers. Who are Fever's parents? Could she really be part Scriven? And where have these mysterious memories come from?

I have to say, Reeve has a way with words. His descriptions are totally unique, and he's filled the dialogue with excellent bits of slang. I have to admit, I was very amused to see that in this future "blog" is a four-letter word. The world is filled with steampunk-ish creations, only instead of Victorians developing technology well ahead of schedule, this is a future where all of our technology has fallen to ruin and people are trying to reverse-engineer it to work on alternate power sources or with alternate materials as oil and the like are no longer an option.

No where on the book is it described as a prequel to the Mortal Engines quartet, so it's clearly intended to be able to stand alone, however once I knew it was a prequel, I found myself questioning everything and wondering what was going to turn out to be important in the other series. I think because I didn't have the knowledge of the other series I can't count this as one of the best of the year, as Lynn and Cindy do. While the story definitely holds up on its own, I bet knowing the other books makes this for a much richer read. As it is, it's a wholly enjoyable science fiction title, and I'm definitely interested in reading more of Fever's adventures.

1 comment:

Patti said...

I love this book. I'm a huge Hungry City Chronicles fan. I agree that having read the other books probably makes for a richer reading experience, only because he put some things in Fever Crumb that were huge payoffs for fans of that series. The discovery of who Grike was, for example. But I think the book stands up on its own too.

I really encourage you to seek out the other titles - they are all pretty wonderful.

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