May 25, 2012

Web of Air by Phillip Reeve

This steampunk novel is the long awaited sequel to Reeve's Fever Crumb. The future-world in which Fever lives is one in which the technology of the "ancients" is scorned and deplored. Fever is an engineer who seeks only the practical and is curious about the ancient technologies. Taking off from where Fever Crumb left off, Fever has departed London with orphaned Ruan and Fern, joining a drama troupe who travels on the barge (large traveling land ships) Persimmon's Electric Lyceum. The barge provides the living space and theatre for cast and crew. Fever's only interest in theatre is to provide the unheard of technology of electric lights and special effects for the she finds the plays themselves absurd, illogical and a waste of time. One day, as she is walking about, she is struck by a model idea from the past, that has long been abandoned. Fever is fascinated with the ancient technology of air flight, and must find where the model airplane came from. Her search will lead her to a young man named Aarlo. His secrets and knowledge will captivate Fever and lead her into danger, wonder, and feelings that she has never experienced.
If you haven't read Fever Crumb, start there, as the background is really necessary to fully understand what is going on. A good sequel, but looking forward to the next installment.
Reed Reads Score: 3.5

May 6, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

It is 126 years after the fourth world war. Countries of the world have become somewhat settled, and in New Beijing (old Beijing destroyed in the war), the Eastern Commonwealth is ruled by Monarchy. People travel by hovercraft, menial work is done by androids, and humans can now have their lives extended by becoming cyborg. Sounds like a perfect setting for Cinderella. Right. Cinderella? Marissa Meyer may have used the fairy tale as a loose framework for this sci-fi adventure, but once well into the story most recognizable similarities dissipate, as the quick moving plot draws you in.

Cinder is a 16 year old cyborg, who has no memory of where she came from, and whose adoptive father has just passed away. Left with her step-mother and step-sisters, she feels out of place, as her interest is in fixing androids, or any other machine, and has no interest in trying on frilly dresses for the upcoming ball. The current monarchy is unstable as the Emperor is mortally ill with a plague for which there is no cure. Cinder is in disbelief when the Emperor's son, Prince Kai, visits her stall in the marketplace, requesting that she repair his broken android. Cinder is accompanied by her step-sister Peony on a trip to the junk yard looking for spare parts, when Peony suddenly shows symptoms of the plague, and after Cinder's call for help, is taken away by med-droids to be placed in isolation. Cinder's step-mother blames Cinder for what has happened, and as her caretaker, volunteers her for plague research, and as a guinea pig, means certain death. From here the story takes off, as her experience will reveal parts of her past, special powers she possesses, and relationships between the Monarchy and Lunars, a human sub-race that inhabits our moon.

At first, I was skeptical, but quickly became wrapped up in this science-fiction, adventure. With much foreshadowing, symbolism, and parallels to today's society, there is a lot to ponder and discuss. This is the first book of Meyer's series The Lunar Chronicles, the second book, Scarlet, due out next year.
Reed Reads Score: 4