Title: Infernal Devices
Author: Philip Reeve
Genre: Fantasy/ Steampunk/ Adventure
Publication date: 2005
The mighty engines of Anchorage have been rusted and dead for years. The derelict city no longer roams the Ice Wastes, but has settled on the edge of the land that was once America. Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw are happy in the safety of a static settlement, but their daughter, Wren, is desperate for adventure. When a dangerously charming submarine pirate offers her a chance to escape, Wren doesn’t think twice about leaving her home and her parents behind. But the pirate wants something in return — Wren must steal the mysterious Tin Book. To do so will ignite a conflict that could tear the whole world apart.
Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve is the third book of the series and my favorite so far. Maybe it is because it takes place sixteen years later and we have a new cast of characters (more or less) or maybe because I grew to love this world and Philip Reeve just keeps expanding it and making it even more exciting. Either way, I am glad to have started the series and the fact that I read three books in less than a week is a testament to my love (and sheer craziness).
The storylines in Infernal Devices are now branching out and that keeps it interesting for me. On one hand we follow Wren, Hester and Tom’s daughter, who is abducted, kind of, by a Lost Boy and then caught in the schemes of the city of Brighton and sold as slave; then we have Hester and Tom who are trying to get back their daughter; then we have Stalker Fang and her merry band of killers trying to destroy all traction cities and making the world ‘green again’.
There is a bit for everyone and that was what kept me going. The world-building and the way Reeve does it amazes me to no end. I still have my issues with his character though – I expect that when I read a book my emotions for different characters will vary from love them, hate them, they are annoying, they are scary, I want him to die etc… with this book I am mainly annoyed for different reasons. But I am usually annoyed by real people so you may say that I am biased 😀
Anyway, the only character that doesn’t annoy me is an immortal Stalker – once a human turned into a machine – simply because it makes sense. Stalkers mainly want to achieve an objective through killing or destroying. No whining, no stupidity, no cowardly fear and more whining. I know many people like to read about very realistic people that act like your everyday Joe. But I don’t. I read to be inspired, to meet people that are not normal, not that realistic because I see those everywhere around me. So maybe that is why I get annoyed at Reeve‘s characters, since they are so flawed that they are entirely human. And it is disturbing when the character you understand and like most is nothing more than a killing machine 😀
The story developed so fast and in so many different directions that I didn’t have much time to get frustrated by anyone in particular. One this I realized, though, as I was reading the final chapters. Tom is a nice guy, good guy, with big heart that always wants to help and forgive. Hester is selfish but is also strong, determined and gets shit done. And while I admire good people (and I try to be one) I honestly hoped Hester would kill him already so that he doesn’t suffer. Altruistic characters who can forgive everything and want to save everyone are weird to me. I am trying to be open-minded but shoot me in the chest and leave me for dead and next time I see you you’re dead. And if I don’t kill you myself I will leave you for dead. I know not everyone could do that and probably more people with scowl at this comment but hey, we’re all different. 🙂
I’ll give the Infernal Devices a solid 4/5 rating. Thoroughly entertaining, wouldn’t have put it down if I didn’t have to sleep and get to work.
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on Infernal Devices?