Jan's Reviews > Fever Crumb

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
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's review
Jan 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: teenbooks, dystopia

"Her name is Fever." These four words are the only clue to Fever Crumb's identity. When she was a baby, she was found abandoned in a basket by Dr. Crumb, a highly respected member of the Order of Engineers, an organization that prides itself on reason and logic. Despite the fact that the Order does not believe that the female mind can be logical, as Fever grows up, she becomes, at the age of 14, one of the Order's brightest and most rational students. Soon, though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb to assist archeologist Kit Solent with a top secret project. Kit needs her help to unlock the door to a mysterious room that belonged to Auric Godshawk, the last of a race of evil overlords that terrorized humankind. But as she begins work, she is plagued by memories that are not her own and pursued by terrifying villains intent upon chasing her down. But why? What secret does Fever Crumb hold locked away in her memory?

Oh, did I love this wonderful steampunk alternate history about a London that has survived an apocalypse called the "Downsizing." If Dickens wrote a dystopia novel about London, this would be it. Reeve invents great Dickensian names for his characters, like Wormtimber and Tedward Swiney. As in Dickens, the names reflect the characters.

Writing is concise, but colorful and full of action. Reeve uses humor to occasionally lighten the tension and it works beautifully.

Complex themes are artfully woven into the fast-paced action and adventure plot, particularly the connection between science/technology and humans. We see science as either magic or logic, depending upon your point of view. The book also looks at technology as the uber weapon to gain ultimate power, including societal control. The plot revolves around a medical experiment and the ethics of using humans as guinea pigs. There is also a rather satiric commentary on society and mob rule.

Plot: fast paced and suspenseful. Although a plot driven novel, the sophisticated character development and introduction of complex themes makes it more than just an adventure story. The author uses skillful storytelling that makes the action visible to the reader.

Setting: London following catastrophic “Downsizing.” There are hints of technology run amuk and environmental catastrophe. Bands of motorized gypsies roaming the hinterlands…what a wonderful addition! Reeve provides just enough information for us to be fascinated by his hints as to what has happened and we want to know more. Not too much detail to bog down story, just enough to tantalize.

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