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Fever Crumb is set before the events which take place in Phillip Reeves extremely popular Mortal Engines quartet. For those of you who haven't read this series, the first book is set in London, far into the future where cities, villages, hamlets, are all mobile, they travel across 'the plains' on wheels, bigger cities eating up smaller ones to take their resources and use their people as slaves. The reader isn't quite sure how the world got to be this way but it is clear that society advanced, creating new technology that is much bigger and better than we have now, and you can assume there has been wars which has set the world back in terms of technological advancement. However, technology still exists, people know how to use it even if they do not know how to create it, so there's a lot of recycling of machines, etc, giving the book a kind of futuristic steam punk feel.
As I said, Fever Crumb is set before the world created in Mortal Engines, and in it London is still stationary, but yet not quite as we are used to it. The city has just gotten over an invasion of 'patchskins', a new race of humans, very much like us but with distinct marking on their skin. They moved into London and took over, making themselves the social elite and making the common Londoners work for them. London soon got tired of this and killed them off, but they are still wary enough to be worried that any may still be alive. In the middle of this unsettled London lives Fever Crumb, a young girl who was found as a baby by an engineer named Doctor Crumb and thus lives with a group of them hoping to grow up to become an engineer just like everyone she knows. She prides herself on her rational and logical thinking, and due to this she is asked to help out an ex engineer on an archaeological dig. However, her eyes are different colours, and when someone spots this while she's out in London they wonder if she's a patchskin. She is soon thrust into a world she knows nothing about where logic wont help her. She is chased down by 'skinners' the people who used to hunt patchskins and then skin them afterwards, shes also on the hunt for some very special treasure and must witness the dawning of a new age and a new London.
I really liked Mortal Engines, I thought that the whole quartet was exciting and very different in a world of children's books. So I wasn't sure what to think about a prequel, I couldn't see how it would work and whether it was necessary. Now that I've read it I'm kind of 50/50, I liked Fever Crumb, but I liked Mortal Engines more, and I don't think this sits entirely right with it.
It took me a while to get into this book, but when I'd read a bit and given it a chance the story really got going, it is pretty exciting, it's fast paced and the character development is good. Mostly I liked Fever Crumb, she's a great character but I do think that more could have been done with her. Saying that, there will be more released in this series so there is still a chance that I'll read more about her later. This is a good children's book, it has some great bits too it, like a killer robots called stalkers who are made out of dead humans and are pretty much immortal, and of course a book about the beginnings of a totally mobile world is a great idea. I think that it's best to read Mortal Engines before you read this. Mortal Engines as a series is a really great idea and original, I think the best part of this series is that fans of Mortal Engines are going to be able to see how the world they love was actually formed. I think a lot can be done with a world that is just starting to be mobile, so I hope a lot is done with it later on. This book could be a very good start of a series, and I hope it is.