It may not be socially acceptable to admit this, but I’m competitive. Super competitive. And my roommate enrolled in a children’s literature class for grad school last semester. I liked being the accepted expert on children’s and YA lit in our apartment. Not that anyone challenged my position up to that point, you understand. THEN: my roommate usurped the title! And read a lot of the books I’d been hearing good things about through the blogosphere, but didn’t have the time to get to myself. Talk about demoralizing.
Roommate presented me with her reading list at the beginning and asked if I could lend her any of the books so that she wouldn’t have to live at the library. Lucky her, I already had Fever Crumb on my shelves, and was looking forward to reading it. After she finished and liked it, I got into gear and read it for myself. So…what is this book and why was I so set on reading it and why did I feel jealous that she’d finished it first?
A stunning, new novel by master storyteller Philip Reeve.
Fever Crumb is a girl who has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the order of Engineers, where she serves as apprentice. In a time and place where women are not seen as reasonable creatures, Fever is an anomaly, the only female to serve in the order. Soon though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb – nearly the only person she's ever known – to assist archeologist Kit Solent on a top-secret project. As her work begins, Fever is plagued by memories that are not her own and Kit seems to have a particular interest in finding out what they are.
Fever has also been singled out by city-dwellers who declare her part Scriven. The Scriveners, not human, ruled the city some years ago but were hunted down and killed in a victorious uprising by the people. If there are any remaining Scriven, they are to be eliminated. All Fever knows is what she's been told: that she is an orphan. Is Fever a Scriven? Whose memories does she hold? Is the mystery of Fever, adopted daughter of Dr. Crumb, the key to the secret that lies at the heart of London?
I originally came across (and bought) Fever Crumb because of my interest in all things steampunk. And when I finally got down to reading it, I discovered an unexpected gem of a novel, full of science fiction, set in a fantastical alternate universe, and possessed of a tight plot and engaging characters. I loved it.
Fever, the title character, is thrust into city life and must up the task of unraveling exactly why science and logic can’t explain her personal history – or the history of her civilization. In doing so, she starts a quest of sorts, and avoiding peril on all sides, she bravely puts together the pieces to understand a great mystery (or several, really).
I thought Fever’s journey was interesting, suspenseful in parts, and ultimately fun. Why? First: Fever herself. Second: the central mystery, which I will NOT ruin for you. And third? The great, mad world the whole thing is set in. I felt as if I could climb inside the city Reeve built. Even more awesome? I’d want to. I mean, you can totally imagine Dante’s Inferno in spots, but you’d never want to go there. Reeve has created a dangerous, complex place that I’d actually buy a ticket to visit. And that, my dears, is a great reason to read ANY book (but especially this one).
Now we come down to the hard questions. Is this steampunk? I don’t know. It has elements that will be familiar to steampunk devotees. Is it only for YA or fantasy fans? Certainly not. My roommate, who reads almost strictly chick lit and pop psychology books (though I may be judging too harshly there...), loved it and talked about it for days. Will you like it? I darn well hope so. That’s enough of that!
Recommended for: anyone in the mood for a mystery, steampunk devotees, YA and fantasy fans, and those who can’t resist a good puzzle, no matter what the genre or medium. Also: everyone else. Yes, even you!