Title: Fever Crumb
Author: Philip Reeve
ISBN: 9780545207195
Pages: 325 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press, c2010.

“She’s tall enough, but she ain’t got no speckles,” said one man, peering into Fever’s face. “She ain’t no Scriven.”
“But look at them eyes!” another urged. “She’s some sort of misshape all right. ‘Ow could she be human yet ‘ave eyes that don’t match?”
“Of course I am human!” said Fever weakly, but the men were all suspicious now, and that word “misshape” had been enough to rouse a wary hatred from deep in their folk memory. Mutations were rare, and not many had been as long lasting or as dangerous as the Scriven, but most Londoners still believed in stamping out misshapes wherever you found them, just in case.
Fever look around, hoping to find someone in the crowd she might appeal to. There was no one. (25)

Fever Crumb was just a baby when she was discovered and adopted by Dr. Crumb, a member of the Order of Engineers. As the only female apprentice, she’d be an anomaly even without the different colored eyes. When she’s sent out amongst the public for the first time to aid an archeologist with a dig, she’s quickly mistaken for a Scriven, a mutated race that ruled ruthlessly over the humans some years ago until they were overthrown in a messy uprising. Fever quickly realizes that things aren’t as they seem as her work sparks hidden memories that don’t seem to belong to her. Does she hold the key to saving the humans from the impending attack from outsiders?

I’ve been struggling to write this review for a couple days now, with little success. So, I figured I’d just bit the bullet and lay it on the table. This story just really fell flat for me and I never really became fully engrosed in this novel. I don’t know why, because I’m sure the story is interesting enough and appealing to other people, but I really don’t think the it’s going to stick with me. But The Order of Engineers reminds me of Star Trek Vulcans, who strive to show no emotion and think logically, which they seem to succeed at as long as they are surrounded by others who think the same way they do. Once they enter the “real” world and abandon their sheltered existence, then they are less successful at masking their feelings.

The alternating viewpoints leads to a choppy presentation, and (again, for me) reveals too much to the reader at once. At one point in time there were four different plots going on, which you jumped from with only chapter headings most of the time seperating the stories from one another, with otherwise little transition. This book is meant as a prequel for the author’s “Hunger City Quartet”, and maybe if I’d read those first the story would make more sense. The politics behind the invaders and the Scriven seemed glossed over and rushed, which again might have been because it’s meant to be read with the series.

Don’t get me wrong, there were little pieces of amusement in the book. Philip Reeve places snippets in the book that grab your attention just when you’re thinking about putting it down and picking something else up. Like the references to today’s culture as ancient history. Hari Potter is hailed as an old time prophet, “blogger” is used as a derogatory term, and “Cheesers Crice” is used to indicate frustration. There are also complicated technologies that people don’t understand and dig up from the ruins, like engines, but then they have paper asassins with tiny brains that they use but are clueless to explain how they run. These inventions remind me of how we treat modern day technology today, where we’re content to use something when we have no knowledge of it’s mechanics.

But I was never really involved with Fever. It seemed kind of obvious to me who her father and mother were, so when they are finally revealed it wasn’t a true suprise, just a confirmation of suspicions. I expected some sort of rebellion from teenage Fever, but she seems very accepting of her situation and upbringing, almost like she’s been brainwashed. I guess I like my characters with a little more… personality, and with the lifestyle that the Engineers were encouraging, it just wasn’t possible to bring that out in Fever. Her lifestyle reminded me of a nun, cloistered away in pursuit of knowledge, although a nun looks for spiritual guidance and Fever is looking for more concrete enlightenment.

There’s very little enlightenment at the end of the story though, with most of the characters still questioning what they’re going to do and what their lives will hold at this pivotal moment of change. I hope readers of the whole series will find more enjoyment out of it then I did.

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