Author: Chris Wooding
Genre: Action/Adventure/Young Adult/Fiction/Science-fiction/Tech-punk
Rail and Moa are thieves. They work for the Thief Mistress Anya-Jacana, who has a large networking of thieves throughout her district in the city-island of Orokos. When they unknowingly steal a device created many years before that has the ability to take the wearer through walls, they decide to run away with it. But Anya-Jacana will not give up so easily – and Rail and Moa have other things to worry about. The Probability Storms caused by the Chaos Engine in the middle of the Fulcrum are always a danger – they can turn someone who has been right-handed all their life left-handed overnight. They can replace a baby’s eyes with buttons, or they could make you enormously wealthy. Then, there are the Revenants – ghosts of energy that can kill a person and use the body of that person in order to move around without being seen. And, of course, there is the golem Vago who they have run into – is he an ally, or an enemy? And then, there is Bane – a Secret Police officer who hates Ghetto folk like Rail and Moa and wants to see them destroyed – and also wants to destroy the Chaos Engine. Oh, and of course there is Kittiwake and her group of people who believe that there is another world beyond the sea – if only they can get to it without being destroyed by the Skimmers.
To be honest, if my copy of the book had looked like the one above, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s a weird cover. But the one I got did NOT have that cover, and so I got it and read it. It’s a strange book, let me say that first. It’s about a dystopian science-fiction culture, and two unimportant people’s decision to try and return it to a bright civilization. It’s a dark book – their culture is not exactly ideal. Darkness permeates the city – very few glimmers of light are available. Happiness is rare, and it’s a fight to survive, especially for Ghetto folk.
But for all this, there were bright streaks in the book. Rail loves Moa – he would do anything to protect her. Part of the reason he loves her is because she sees good in people, and is always willing to think the best of them. Rail is the exact opposite of Moa. He is mistrustful and wary – Moa is the only person he trusts, and he would be willing to die for her. Vago also exhibits self-sacrifice and heroism in a scene that nearly had me crying. The book also exhibits the view that no matter how dark and miserable things seem, there is always hope.
But, this book had a few disturbing aspects, too. The Revenants are a bit zombie-like. And you find out about three-fourths through the book that the free ‘food’ the Ghetto Folk receive from the Protectorate is actually the Ghetto folk that go missing (kind of reminds you of that old Charleton Heston movie, doesn’t it?) Also, the made-up word ‘freck’ stands in for other swear words throughout the book. Also, ‘gods’ are mentioned a few times in a flippant way – ‘if there are any gods up there’, etc.
Once again – this was a strange book. And I mean, really, really strange. It was intriguing, though – fascinating in the way it delved into the different dimensions of the human mind. It has examples of nearly every kind of person in this book, and exploits them from all angles. In a way, it’s sort of a study of humanity with a fictional twist.
But I would not recommend it, and I wouldn’t read it again. It left me with an oppressed and depressed feeling. This is one book that, while I’d like to say I liked it, and even though it had its good points, I did not enjoy as much as I could have.
3 out of 5 stars