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Monday, September 15, 2014

Not a Dystopian Novel. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

Reeve, Philip (2009) Fever Crumb  New York:  Scholastic.
Yes, Philip Reeve's Fever Crumb seems to be set in the distant future.  Yes, the future is not a particularly optimistic place to be in this novel.  But this isn't a dystopian novel.  I'll explain why shortly, but first let me tell you what this actually is.
This is the story of an orphan girl raised by engineer-monks to become the first female member of the Order of Engineers.  When she is assigned to help an archeologist, she begins to discover secrets about the last of the Scriven overlords who once ruled the land.  She begins to get close to discovering who she really is -- though at the same time, she seems to be making herself a target,  This is a story that moves quickly and the world it moves in is a fascinating world. 
But in the interest of preventing imprecise language, I don't think this thing is dystopian.  A dystopian novel tries to extrapolate where our society will end up if it continues to emphasize certain elements (economic inequity and narcissistic reality shows in Hunger Games,  polarized perspectives and overspecialization in Divergent.)  Reeve's work is a great story set in an interesting future world, but it doesn't seem to be out to engage in any major social critique -- at least not in this first book. Is that good?  Is it bad?  Beats me, I'm just saying it is a good book (and not dystopian). 
This one might work for really bright fifth or sixth graders, but it really seems more ideal for late middle school and high school readers.  These is a lot of excitement and some minor violence and one pretty scary guy, but nothing really objectionable.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, I received your request about the Book section at Marshall FIeld & Company. There is a picture of it in an annual report I have (after a 1974 renovation) and I can tell you that it consisted of a main book sales room on the third floor (North Wabash room), a Paperback Book Shop (on the North Bridge) an Old Maps & Prints room, and an Antiquarian Book shop. Contact me at and I will try to scan the picture for you. - Bruce