Fever Crumb - Philip Reeve
Fever Crumb is a girl who is adopted and raised by the Order of Engineers in London, the sole female member of a group that does not consider women to be capable of rational thought. Fever has spent her entire life among the strictly rational engineers, never seeing the outside world until she is sent to assist the archaeologist Kit Solent. Fever is to aid Solent in exploring the palatial ruins of the last ruler of London, who was violently deposed by the common people when Fever was just a baby. However, while exploring the ruins, Fever has been experiencing memories that cannot possibly be hers. Where are these strange memories coming from, and who is Fever really?

Fever Crumb is set in the same universe as Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series. However, Reeve is excellent at world-building, and this story requires no prior knowledge on the part of the reader. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic London; in the distant future the world has suffered an unknown cataclysm referred to only as “the Downsizing.” Most modern technology has been lost, and the few functioning remnants are little understood. The city has regressed to a Medieval-like existence, controlled by powerful guilds and facing the constant threat of nomadic invaders. At the novel’s beginning, it has been fourteen years since the last nomadic group to conquer London, the Scriven, were overthrown in a series of riots.

At its heart, the story is that of a young woman’s search for her identity. Fever’s upbringing is a sheltered existence, she is taught to focus only on rational thoughts, and to hide her emotions. However, her exposure to the loving family of Kit Solent leaves Fever feeling conflicted. At the same time, an accidental encounter in a London market leads former rioters to suspect Fever may in fact be a Scriven. As Fever deals with new experiences and strange memories, she faces the pursuit of the last Scriven Skinner and the possible wrath of the common people.

Reeve’s writing is excellent, and a surprising number of characters are very well-developed. The people in the story act like complex human beings, even the supposedly non-human Scriven. Many of the antagonists, such as Bagman Creech the Scriven hunter, are even deserving of the reader’s sympathy.

Fever Crumb is an excellent novel and is highly recommended for science fiction and fantasy fans; any reader who enjoys a good story with strong characters should definitely give it a try. Hopefully Scholastic will be releasing more of Reeve’s Mortal Engines books in the future.

A review copy was provided through the Goodreads.com First Reads program.