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A Web of Air (Mortal Engines Prequel) Paperback – 1 Nov 2010
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Philip Reeve’s “A Web of Air” marks another step in the author’s exploration of his Mortal Engines universe. Previous works had been high-octane, action-orientated, thrillers. With the first Fever Crumb prequel we witnessed a change of pace closer to a ‘Hetty Feather’ novel but without the clichés. The evolution continues to surprise as each plot twist and turn continues to deliver possibilities that the reader is not expecting. Reeve is no longer content with blowing everything up at the end with hero and heroine sail off into the sunset. Indeed he now appears to quite enjoy twisting the knife. His little universe is established with its own fan base so he can afford to take risks. Not for him a tale of a hapless, emotional, orphan seeking out her true parents. She had found them by the end of the first book but the reader was left scratching their collective heads as Reeves then has the lead character run away from home to join a travelling theatre. Nothing is simple in this universe. Fever is tough and brave although her efforts to remain emotionless and rational don’t always lead her to make the right decisions. She remains naïve, yet, for all her failings, she remains a strong aspirational figure for the young.
“A Web of Air” delivers a whole lot of new unexpected twists and is a lot of fun.
This prequel begins not with this book but with Fever Crumb. I would highlight that fact because I made an error in purchasing and reading this book before the former. I had (and still have) Fever Crumb on reserve at the library. After several months of waiting I thought I was giving up and buying the book from Amazon - but accidentally got book two instead and did not realise until I was scratching my head over what appeared a confused start.
Read in the proper order though, these stories are wonderful. This one is about a boy who wants to fly, and has the intelligence and resources (more or less) to achieve his dream, where it not for sinister forces attempting to prevent him. It is also about the girl, Fever Crumb, who is a wonderful overly analytical type, who says what she means and does not care who hears her.
In the background of this story are issues over prejudice, blind faith and the dangerous forces that we can unwittingly unleash. It had me thinking about the law of unintended consequences. As such it was a thoughtful book as well as a very good read. It is written for children and young adults, but it is one of those books adults should enjoy too, if they want something more thoughtful, weighty and well researched than a Dan Brown book.
I can't wait to read the next instalment that, not surprisingly, is already here!