Fever Crumb is a futuristic dystopia YA novel with dashes of old-fashioned steampunk and clockwork sci-fi by Philip Reeve.
Fever has not had an ordinary childhood. She has been raised since infancy by her adopted guardian, Dr. Crumb, a member of the Order of Engineers and sheltered in one of the last remaining relics of the Scriven era (a past tyrannical race that been cruel and mad before finally being overrun by angry Londoners). She's been surrounded by intensely rational minds that do not find anything redemptive in imagination or emotion.
This is all Fever knows, and she's just fine with that. In fact, she has garnered an extraordinary knowledge of engines and science in a time when women are not considered reasonable creatures. She's the only female exception in the Order of Engineers.
But as she has been accepted as an apprentice, Fever is now fourteen and expected to make her first foray outside her home to assist archaeologist Kit Solvent. He has made some kind of discovery, which he is keeping incredibly secret, and needs help uncovering it. It involves a mysterious, never-before-found room that belonged to Auric Godshawk, the last of the Scriven leaders - long dead and hated.
Once Fever arrives, after making her way through a paranoid and irrational London, she finds that being around this secret room is doing something to her. She is seeing things. Almost like memories. But they are not hers. She's never before left the Order of Engineers, so these images are impossible for her to remember. So, why, when she looks upon these locations, does she sometimes see a party where there is no party? Why does she feel older than she is? And why does she no longer feel safe?
After living for years with a very calm, rational mind dedicated to science and thinking - and being surrounded with the like - Fever is now for the first time... afraid.
Fever Crumb is quite something. I read it knowing I would get the chance to read the sequel, A Web of Air, right after. I wanted to start the story from the beginning, of course, which is why I got my hands on Fever Crumb. It has great reviews - and I can see why!!!
It has an intriguing start with an unfamiliar, strange future London and an obviously sweeping mythology that I was more than ready to get swept up in. We aren't told what year we're in but it's clear it is sometime in the distant future (cell phones are called the technology of the Ancients) with whispers of our own past. It caught my attention and never let go.
Fever Crumb as a story is a captivating mishmash of mystery, sci-fi, dystopia, and character development. Fever's history (as well as London's as a city) seems like a concoction of both truth and lies. And as our main character begins recalling things she shouldn't for no apparent reason and she begins getting tracked by a potential enemy, the suspense increases.
I loved Fever Crumb, the book and the character. The character is incredibly interesting - self-possessed, completely "rational", strong, and rather standoffish without really meaning to be. She is different from any other YA character I can think of. Combining that kind of iconic, likable yet odd, character with a broken, crumbling London that reeks with suspicion, danger, fear and intrigue is awesome!
Fever Crumb has stunning developments that reward a patient reader who recognizes an excellent slow-burn when they see one. There's a haunted quality that kept me hooked and desperate for the same answers as Fever. Philip Reeve has enormous creativity and imagination, not only as he creates an entirely new world but as he populates it with a mad dash of old and new technology.
And as Fever Crumb turns into a pulse-pounding survival story (no spoilers here!), it becomes more urgent, scary, gripping, and edge-of-you-seat. That's never, ever a bad thing!
It was quite good. Quite something, as I said earlier. In my opinion, Fever Crumb is definitely accessible to older readers because of its depth and maturity. Not to mention any fan of steampunk, dystopia, or sci-fi will enjoy it - period.
I look forward to following Fever further into A Web of Air!