You are currently browsing the daily archive for November 21, 2011.

A Web of Air by Philip Reeve (2010) 281 p.

Two years have passed since the events of Fever Crumb, and Fever is still travelling aboard the actor’s land-barge in which she fled London, raising the children of the deceased Kit Solent. The actor’s troupe has arrived in the Portuguese city of Mayda, and Fever’s scientific interests are piqued by the rumours of a young man attempting to build a flying machine.

Like Fever Crumb, A Web of Air dispenses with the high-flying, globetrotting, swashbuckling adventures of the Mortal Engines series in favour of a slower-paced story confined to a single location. This is something of a shame, since swashbuckling adventure was part of what I enjoyed most about the Mortal Engines series. Combined with the fact that I’m now an older reader, plus the fact that nostalgia is doubtless a significant factor in my love of the first series, and I continue to find the Fever Crumb series significantly less compelling. (Although judging from other reviews I’m not the only one, so perhaps nostalgia isn’t a very big factor after all.)

Nonetheless, A Web of Air is somewhat better novel than Fever Crumb. It just seems slightly more interesting, a bit tighter, and has more creativity and visual description and less stupid jokes (although they’re still there – what the hell was with the barbershop quartet mafia?) Although it doesn’t have anything that quite compares with the final moment Kit Solent sees his children in Fever Crumb, that was a) the only great moment in Fever Crumb and b) piggybacking on readers’ established love of a character from the Mortal Engines series. The emotional, character-driven moments in A Web of Air stand on their own, and there’s more than one, even if they are merely good rather than great.

Overall, the Fever Crumb series continues to lag a significant distance behind the Mortal Engines series, and I’m reading it more out of obligation than genuine desire. But I’ll see it through, and hopefully it will pick up. It’s still better than most of the young adult steampunk dreck that lines the shelves these days.

Archive Calendar

November 2011