This is one of two prequels to the HUNGRY CITIES set of four novels. The other prequel, which continues the story of Fever Crumb, is A WEB OF AIR. This first adventure of young Fever takes place several thousand years before the HUNGRY CITIES events. We see such things as the origin of traction cities, the origin of the London Engineers Guild, and even the origin of probably the most popular character in the HUNGRY CITIES novels, as well as the beginnings of lighter-than-air aviation in this distant future where almost all technology has been lost.
Reading over the many reviews of this novel on amazon.co.uk (where it has been available for a year), I found that most reviewers had two complaints: (1) the deliberately weird names of many of the characters was distracting; and (2) the novel has a very uneven pace with little happening until midway, when the revelations and action start coming thick and fast.
I found two problems that somewhat hampered my enjoyment. First, the main character, Fever Crumb, is lacking in both personality and initiative, and is almost entirely passive until the very end of the novel. Since the story is about her, this places a void right in the center of the novel. The other problem I had was that a major character, Kit Solent, seems to know things that he is not in a position to know... such as that Fever may have access to the memories of the last mutant ruler of London, Auric Godshawk, and know the secrets of his final inventions. How can Solent know this, when Fever's mother (who shows up late in the novel) and Fever's father, both of whom worked closely with Godshawk, don't know it? Unless Reeve dropped a brief, elliptic hint that I missed (and he does do such things), there is no explanation within the novel, and no possible explanation given the circumstances set forth during the novel.
Another disappointment for me was that previously-mentioned origin story given for a major character in the Hungry Cities quartet. In a sense, the story tells us too much... I would have preferred that this character's early life (or rather living death) remain mostly a mystery.
But these are quibbles. On balance, this is an excellent, well-written and continually interesting novel. I hope A WEB OF AIR will allow Fever Crumb to develop some personality and initiative... perhaps the existence of this second chapter in her saga is the reason the author dials Fever's human-interest quotient so very far back in the present adventure.
- Audio CD
- Publisher: Scholastic Audio; Unabridged edition (1 March 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545282926
- ISBN-13: 978-0545282925
- Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.5 x 16.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 295 g
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