Fever Crumb (Mortal Engines Quartet Prequel) by Philip Reeve
|Fever Crumb (Mortal Engines Quartet Prequel) by Philip Reeve
|Reviewer: Graeme K Talboys
|Summary: A fast-paced and intriguing adventure, this is a prequel to the award winning Mortal Engines series.
|Date: May 2009
Philip Reeve produced an instant classic with his Mortal Engines series of books. After a break, he has returned to the astonishing world he created with a story set centuries before the adventures of Tom and Hester and their daughter Wren at the end of the Traction Era.
In a time just before the great Traction Cities had been built, Fever Crumb's ordered and logical world as an apprentice Engineer in London falls apart around her ears. She is chosen by an archaeologist to assist in a project identifying ancient artefacts (some dating as far back as our own time). Not only is she plunged into a different way of life where emotion plays an important role, but she also discovers that her past is much more complex than she could ever have imagined.
She becomes the target of an assassin against a background of social unrest and a threat to the city from nomads; discovers her mother was a member of the reviled caste known as Scriveners; and encounters the dreaded Stalkers.
The book keeps up a great pace and the world of a far future London is well realised – sufficiently familiar to create a connection and sufficiently different to create a feeling of disorientation. It is well written and contains a pleasing blend of humour and thrills. I am sure that young readers of fantasy and science fiction will love it, and if they haven't yet tackled the author's other books set in this world, this will make an excellent introduction. And given its open ending, I wouldn't be surprised (or unhappy) if there were more.
As an adult reader I did have some reservations. Prequels are notoriously difficult as you already know what is going to happen. And between writing the original quartet of books and this, Reeve has been writing for younger readers. It is, therefore, a bit of a jolt coming back to something that feels like it is written for readers younger than Scholastic's suggested 12+ and less sophisticated than his Larklight series. There is also the feeling that whilst the original books were written before their 'crossover' appeal became apparent, this one is trying too hard to appeal to both children and adults. The in-jokes for adults felt a bit too obvious (you had to work for them in the other books) although the line of religious fanatics at the station wearing pointed hats and chanting 'Hari, Hari; Hari Potter' did make me smile.
Putting my adult reservations aside, this is a book I would thoroughly recommend to children and to fans of the series. It has certainly made me want to re-read the others.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Fever Crumb (Mortal Engines Quartet Prequel) by Philip Reeve is in the Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2010.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Fever Crumb (Mortal Engines Quartet Prequel) by Philip Reeve at Amazon.com.
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