Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
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Description: The author of the best-selling and critically beloved Mortal Engines quartet has written a stunning prequel. Fever Crumb is set a generation before the events of Mortal Engines, when cities are just beginning to devour each other. Is the mystery of Fever, adoped daughter of Dr Crumb, the key to the secret that lies at the heart of London? (from Amazon)
Fever Crumb has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the Order of Engineers, where she serves as an apprentice. At a time when women are not seen as reasonable creatures, Fever is an anomaly, the only girl to serve in the Order. Soon, though, she must say good-bye to Dr. Crumb–nearly the only person she’s ever known–to assist archaeologist Kit Solent with a top-secret project. The assignment involves a mysterious room that rests beyond a maze of tunnels and once belonged to Auric Godshawk, the last of the Scriven overlords, and Fever must help Kit unlock it. The Scriven, not human, ruled the city some years ago but were hunted down and killed in a victorious uprising by the people.
As Fever’s work begins, she is plagued by memories that are not her own, and Kit seems to have aparticular interest in finding out what they are. All Fever knows is what she’s been told: She is an orphan. But whose memories does she hold? And why are there people chasing her, intent on eliminating her? Is Fever the key to unlocking the terrible secret of the past? (from the book jacket)
This review is based on a free copy received from the publisher.
TDF Pamela’s Review: A
As the description says, this book is a prequel to the Mortal Engines series, which I have not read. Luckily, it is written so well that prior knowledge of the events of Mortal Engines isn’t needed to enjoy the heck out of this book.
Fever Crumb was raised by Dr. Crumb in the Order of Engineers and is a very rational girl. However, her commitment to the Engineers’ rationality is strongly tested when the secrets of her past begin to resurface and she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous search for ancient technology.
While the characters themselves are fascinating and well-developed, what I found most enjoyable about this book was the setting. It is set in London, but it took me a while to figure out exactly when it takes place. The current technology is almost steampunk in feel, but there are constant references to “Ancient” tech that is basically the technology of our time. I love the feel of the book, as if our world is recovering from a massive catastrophe and is hanging onto the old technology found by archaeologists, even though they haven’t the faintest idea of how to reproduce it.
The little details that Reeve throws in both enhance the regressed future setting as well as making the book pretty darned funny. Fever is nearly run over by a group of religious practitioners wearing “robes and pointed hats… chanting the name of some old-world prophet, ‘Hari, Hari! Hari Potter!‘” I was actually reading this while my class did group work, and I got some very strange looks when I snorted with laughter. Little touches, too, like [email protected], a pub called the Blogger’s Arms, and the use of ‘blog’ and ‘blogger’ as a swear word on par with ‘bugger’ are graceful additions to the place and time that barely remembers our time.
And Reeve’s writing is often just funny on its own. My personal favorite line, in a scene where Engineers are leaving the giant statue head that is their headquarters:
…But by then a whole crowd of Engineers were coming out of Godshawk’s nostril like a highly educated sneeze…
The only major complaint I have about this book is that the plot feels rushed at times. Fever is immediately thrust into her new duties, which is actually an excellent way to begin a book, by tossing the reader right into the action, but the rest of the events in the book seem to happen at a breakneck pace, especially when rushing toward the climax. It’s a bit exhausting, and I found myself wishing it had been drawn out just a bit more.
But overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and I’m currently on the hunt for the Mortal Engines series. I love the setting and want more!
This review is also published at BookWrites.