Fever Crumb is a 14-year-old girl, and the heroine of Reeve’s new dystopian fantasy, set in London centuries before Reeve’s celebrated Mortal Engines series, but long after the catastrophe that wiped out current civilization. London has been ruled for years by a dominant mutant group called the Scriven, but at the time of Fever’s birth they have become (or so it seems) extinct, destroyed partly by their mutant biological weakness but finally in a massacre by an overwhelming force of riotous primitive Londoners. Fever has grown up protected by a privileged reclusive group of neo-scientists called the Order of Engineers, men who disapprove of all emotion and believe exclusively in rationality. After 14 years of mind-training by this benevolent enclosed society, the secret of Fever’s origins and birth draws her out into primitive London, now in danger from a warlike force of nomads approaching from the icy north. As soon as she emerges from the Engineers’ protection Fever is beset by massive physical dangers, and by the unfolding mystery of her parentage.
Fever is a wonderful heroine. All the groups in her world – the vanished Scriven, the rational Engineers, the turbulent Londoners, the nomad invaders – have deep limitations of one kind or another. Fever, because of her origins, has many of their gifts but not the flaws. She is a unique and important citizen of her world. Just how important will no doubt be revealed in the sequels that will surely come. This novel is the story of her baptism of fire in the non-stop dangers that life suddenly throws at her. Her survival makes for a terrific story in a highly original, exuberantly imagined future world. Reeve’s ideas are prolific but his narrative is taut, disciplined and fast-moving. (There are also some very good jokes, especially in the early chapters while the action is heating up.) As always with Reeve, the book is intelligent and thoughtful as well as a page-turner. It is a treat in store for readers over 12.