Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Take On: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb is a1 girl who has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the order of Engineers, where she serves as apprentice. In a time and place where women are not seen as reasonable creatures, Fever is an anomaly, the only female to serve in the order. Soon though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb-nearly the only person she's ever known-to assist archeologist Kit Solent on a top-secret project. As her work begins, Fever is plagued by memories that are not her own and Kit seems to have a particular interest in finding out what they are. Fever has also been singled out by city-dwellers who declare her part Scriven. The Scriveners, not human, ruled the city some years ago but were hunted down and killed in a victorious uprising by the people. If there are any remaining Scriven, they are to be eliminated. All Fever knows is what she's been told: that she is an orphan. Is Fever a Scriven? Whose memories does she hold? Is the mystery of Fever, adopted daughter of Dr. Crumb, the key to the secret that lies at the heart of London?
If Hayao Miyazaki were to write a book, this would be it.
Fever Crumb was utterly original, palpable, and strongly visuallized novel based in a distant future that bears the blurry shadows of our own culture.
Archeologists, a very important faction in the city of London, dig up remnants of the past, such as misunderstood tech. The very earth is permeated with our refuse from when the high-tech Now crumbled into the nearly alchemical and superstitious Future.
Even the language and culture was pregnant with slang and beliefs derived from our current pop culture: blog(ger) was a well-used substitute for certain explitives and Harry Potter was briefly mentioned as being some sort of prophet with a zealous following. The nods to the misunderstood past were hurmorous, well-placed, and gave this otherwise fanciful story a root in reality. It also helped show how much knowledge Fever's world had lost, how much continuity they lacked between our present and this future. Not that it was a very realistic story, though--this isn't some sort of cautionary tale. Which brings me, I think, back to Myazaki.
The plot was somehow reminescent of an anime movie: Our hero, surounded by mystery in regards to their origin, must discover who they are; there's a lot of heavy drama playing out around them, including politics and a past and impending war; the boundary between good and evil is found to be not nearly as black and white as it was originally assumed to be; and the ending, well, it wasn't very... end-y. I know that there's another book after this2, but as I read the last few lines and came to realize that, indeed, this was where the book would end, I couldn't help but think of the ending of Howl's Moving Castle3 when the exilude began playing while the characters were still trying to work things out and tie off those loose ends. Not that I'm complaining.
But it was more than just the vague similarity between the plot style and anime movies, it was also the vibe. From the very first scene in which Dr. Crumb and Fever are making Paper Boys on the roof of Godshawk's Head in the middle of a smokey London, I visualized this as an anime movie. And a bloggin' good one, too. It just didn't work out my mind unless I was visualizing it thusly. Again, not that I'm complaining.
It was a bit slow going, I'll admit, but this book made up for it in sheer coolness.
I give Fever Crumb...
...four zombies!
There wasn't a lot to read into with this one, no hidden truths that I could discern beside the important role of the Church in tending the flocks and keeping the paths clear, but Fever Crumb was genuinely fun to read.

i am
zombie girrrl
& this book
is different

1. 14 year-old (I felt this needed to be mentioned somewhere sort of official because I kept forgetting hor young she was, probably because she was very clinical and logical; somethign that also made it hard to get attached to her.)
2. As well as a whole other series, this being the first book in the prequel series to The Hungry City series which is about "Municipal Darwinism", something that sounds both extremely awesome as well as a bit mysterious but is actually exactly what it sounds like: survival of the fittest city.
3. The movie, not the book. I actually can't remember the ending of the book all that well.


Avery Jalaine said...

Cool, I was just about to read this, but wondering if it was one of those this-sounds-cool-but-actually-is-the-worst books or one of those this-sounds-cool-and-is books.

So, this was very helpful! Great review!

Zombie Girrrl said...

Definitely a sounds-cool-and-is book. Let me know what you think of it.

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