Fever Crumb (Book 1) by Philip Reeve

As I’ve said before, I come across the books I review in several ways. Either I see it on the shelf, I read about it in an article of some kind, or someone recommends it to me. This week’s book was recommended to me by my library in a “If you like this, maybe you’ll like this…” kind of way.

Fever Crumb is an anomaly. Adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, she serves as his apprentice in the order of Engineers. She is also the only female as women are considered flighty and are not seen a reasonable creatures. Soon though, Fever finds herself leaving Dr. Crumb to help archaeologist Kit Solvent with his new project. However the more she learns about this project the more she is plagued by odd dreams and memories that are not her own. Solvent seems to have a particular interest in this and Fever quickly realizes he knows more about her and her past than he’s telling.

Fever Crumb is an interesting book. The way the world is set up, at first you think perhaps the story takes place in a kind of alternate universe London. A sort of steampunk kind of world. It is only as the story goes on do you realize that it’s actually set in the future! The little clues sprinkled throughout make the ‘Aha!’ moment when you realize this all the sweeter, in my opinion. Time has caused the names of city areas to change, and having been to London I found it a bit of a fun challenge to try and reconcile the actual names with the new slightly different names in the books.

The characters themselves also bear mention. Raised in the order of Engineers, Fever has a strictly logical mind. It reminds me a good deal of the character Mr. Spock, or any one of the Vulcan race, from the Star Trek series. Logic and the search for knowledge is tantamount and everything else just gets in the way. Watching Fever as she encounters a vibrant feeling world and struggles with it makes her growth that much more satisfying. She does not change completely – that would far too out of character – but she does change, at least a little bit.

With a vibrant world, changing yet still holding on to its past, Fever Crumb is an excellent introduction to Philip Reeve and his writing. Considered by most a sort of prequel to his Hungry Cities/Mortal Engines series, it continues the story by going back to the beginning. Those who enjoy steampunk type books will likely enjoy this, as will nearly any one who likes the ‘coming of age’ tales. A strong female protagonist makes this a good book for the young women readers out there as well.

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