Fever Crumb, by Philip Reeve

In Philip Reeve's colorful, violent steampunk novel Fever Crumb, post-apocalyptic engineers work alongside archaeologists to study ancient technologies like “electronic keypads”. Fever Crumb, a fourteen-year-old foundling raised by the all-male Order of Engineers, has just received her first work assignment. The Engineers have trained Fever to value logic and reason above all, but they haven't prepared her for London—a loosely-controlled city full of superstitious people who are quick to notice Fever's odd facial features, and just as quick to mark her as one of the despised Scriven, the group of not-quite-humans who were recently deposed as the rulers of the city.

The internet informs me that Fever Crumb is the first book in a quartet, and serves as a prequel to Reeve's Hungry Cities Chronicles. I haven't read the Hungry Cities books, but Fever Crumb works reasonably well as a standalone story. Reeve's world-building is impressive, and his action scenes charge along at a breakneck pace, but his characterization—particularly of Fever, whom you could pretty much sum up as “Mr. Spock as a teenage girl”—is lackluster in comparison. Plus, most of the book is devoted to the characters acquiring information, which makes it feel like a 325-page-long prologue. I suspect the real action kicks off in the next book in the series, A Web of Air. A word of warning, however: according to the series' Wikipedia page, a fourth and final book was announced in 2011, but nothing is known about it yet. I'm inclined to read the rest of this series, but I'm definitely holding off until there's more concrete news about the final installment.

Review based on a publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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