Thursday, July 4, 2013
Book Review: Scrivener’s Moon
The third book in Philip Reeve’s Fever Crumb trilogy, Scrivener’s Moon, finally takes us through the birth of the Traction Age as Fever returns home to London, nursing her battered heart. Dr. Crumb, Charley Shallow, and Wavey are all there, for better or worse. And as unrest builds in the north, London draws in resources at an alarming rate, it’s new towers growing out of the squalor. Progress chews up and spits out people without much thought, but those who want a return to the ‘good old days’ are making their voice heard. And among the nomads, a young girl with visions of horror is preaching against the growing monster-city. Then some carnies show up with hints of a possible game changer laying buried in hostile territory. This is the set-up for Fever’s journey north where she will face danger, loss, heartbreak, and even personality death as the memories and will of her father resurface once more.
Fever is competent and smart, but painfully unsure of herself. Her deep emotional longing and hurting, combined with a fumbling and awkward attempts to properly express herself resonates with this reader. But while world changing forces push and pull at her, she does all that she can to stand up and forge her own path, which makes her far more compelling than may of the more passive characters so common in teen fiction. And she is up against an array of colorful characters. Charley is a dangerous kid, always able to excuse his own bad behavior, always able to adjust his moral compass to fit the situation. Cluny is a pure soul; but with the danger of Godshawk lurking in her mind, can she be trusted? And what about those carnies and their history with Wavey?
The story moves quickly. As with his other books, you know anyone could die at any time, and nobody is safe. Danger lurks around every turn, in every shadow, and in every heart. Reeve is also very good at making characters who are perfectly decent folk, with ways of viewing the world that are dangerously incompatible. I spent much of the book simultaneously wanting London and its people to triumph and to be destroyed, and the same struggle goes on with the various characters. Impressive. There’s plenty of action and thrilling heroics, too.
This trilogy, begun in Fever Crumb, continued in A Web of Air, and ending here expands on the history of the world created in Mortal Engines and its sequels. But the story is so removed that one need not have read the original series (though, one should read those books!). If you have read them, you’ll pick up on some hints and names that resonate into the future. Overall, the Fever Crumb trilogy doesn’t have the same emotional resonance as the Predator Cities series, but it taps into the same magic. Considering how blubbery I was at the end of the A Darkling Plain, I was a bit surprised the end of Scrivener’s Moon didn’t leave me feeling especially emotional. Not to say the ending was bad. It wasn’t. Whatever the case, it’s a world I would love to revisit again. If Reeve never writes another story about it, I think it will stand perfectly well with what he‘s done so far. But if he does, I’ll be there.
Author: Philip Reeve
Publisher: Scholastic Press