Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
|May 27, 2010||Posted by Kristina Matevski under Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult|
Published by Scholastic Inc., 2010 edition
Many people may already be familiar with Philip Reeve and his Mortal Engines Quartet (known as the Hungry City Chronicles in the U.S.), a series of novels set in a post-apocalyptic future where cities are mounted on caterpillar tracks and go around stripping smaller cities of their resources. Fever Crumb is the prequel to this series and takes place many years before the events in the Mortal Engines Quartet transpire.
Fever Crumb is set in London about fourteen years after the common people rose against the rule of the “cruel and wicked” Scriven, a race of humans with slight genetic anomalies, namely having pale skin blotched and dappled with markings. Here we meet Fever Crumb, an orphaned teenager raised by the Order of Engineers, a group of scientists who want humankind to move beyond the vestige of their animal past and hurry into the future by following logic and behaving rationally.
Fever’s first assignment outside of the Engineers’ home is to help a former Engineer, Kit Solent, with an archaeological dig. Kit found some tunnels under his home that lead to a locked room once belonging to a Scriven lord and he thinks only Fever has the secret to opening it. On her way to Kit’s house, Fever is bombarded by the irrationality of the outside world, in particular a riotous crowd that forms when she is mistaken for a Scriven due to her own minor genetic anomaly: her eyes are two different colours. In addition to the disorder happening inside London, the city also faces an outside threat—northern nomads are searching for a secret within London’s walls and want to take over the city using their advanced technology that includes Stalkers, machines made from the bodies of the dead. Fever is the one person who is connected to all of these events, the locked door, the riotous Londoners, and the northern nomad invasion, and it seems that London’s future is linked to her actions.
I do not think that people will need to read the Mortal Engines Quartet before reading Fever Crumb, as I did not and the book stands well on its own. While my lack of previous knowledge might have meant I missed out on some references or significant events, it definitely did not hinder my enjoyment of the book. I particularly liked the many pop culture references and puns Reeve included in the novel, such as the religious procession that chants the name of some old-world prophet (“Hari, Hari! Hari Potter!”), the war cry used during the Scriven riots (“This Ain’t Genocide! This is Rock ‘n’ Roll!”), and the takes on some well-known areas in London today (such as Ox-fart Circus, Pickled Eel Circus, and Liver Pill Street representing Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, and Liverpool Street). The puns and pop culture references added a bit of humour to some very serious moments and in my opinion made the novel more enjoyable.
I would recommend this novel for young adult readers, perhaps a little older than the recommended age of 10 as some of the realities of the world Reeve depicts may be too difficult for some younger readers to handle. However, for those interested in a good piece of science fiction Reeve doesn’t disappoint and as a prequel, Fever Crumb definitely does its job. By the time you finish reading it you will want to pick up the Mortal Engines Quartet just to see what sort of city London becomes as a result of Fever Crumb’s actions.