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Friday, May 18, 2018

'A Web of Air' - Book Review

a web of air book cover
Snacksie?

What has become of Fever Crumb?


So after I read the delightful Fever Crumb novel, I just HAD TO KEEP going to find out what further adventures would befall our young Engineer, Fever in the sequel A Web of Air.

I mostly wanted to find out what happened to Ruan and Fern, the children of Kit Solent who became the legendary heartbroken killing machine that became Shrike.

The tale begins with a play being presented which slowly reveals the current state of play for Fever.

If you recall the ending of the titular novel, she stepped onto a boat and sailed away. She's now part of that boat's crew who are actors, thespians and good souls who have adopted Fever, Fern and Ruan (what a great name for a law firm eh?) into their theatrical troupe.

Fever does the lights for the stage production by applying her electrical engineering skills.

Author Philip Reeve quite deftly weaves in a little backstory from the first novel and sets up the play and cast of characters.

But what is the summary play?

We have talking birds.

A boy whose family was killed by the ocean.

A charming visitor from London (who we are calling right now as a double agent)

A mysterious watcher in the woods...

And then it gets pretty dull and drawn out, a near-death experience that possibly cannot be so,   though I must all this is all alongside a clever reinvention of the classic idea that evil corporations like to kill people who invent water fueled motor engines.

I'm not one of these rabid fans that will defend their love with a blind eye, I gotta admit, I was getting a bit bored and then S*N*A*C*K*S*I*E* >> Reeve finally pulled some good old Mortal Engines magic out of his quill and we are game on with a slight twist which sets the rest of the story up for a fast past narrative that does the name Philip Reeve, author of A Darkling Plan, justice.

The story builds well but frankly it's pretty low level when compared to the mighty vistas that Reeve has previously carved up with. Angels come home to roost in unexpected ways as Fever and the mysterious Arlo see to their adventure to its conclusion.

While tightly written, overall I was was disappointed with the story's final stakes.

Some take outs:

  • We loved how we learn what the name 'Jenny Hanniver' really means.
  • Having now read A Web of Air, we are are quite excited about Jeremy Levett's AMA where he hints that a character from this novel will turn up in Night Flights.
  • We enjoyed Crumb's strong dislike of religion being used as a story plot and then turned on it's head by the character to achieve a goal - which showed strong character growth.
  • Order A Web of Air from Amazon or Book Depository (which has free shipping!)
  • Reeve has cut back on the wordplay and puns considerably more so than the Mortal Engines efforts he made

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