Starlight Express meets Trainspotting—as run through Reeve’s fertile imagination.
Imagine: a world where solar systems are connected by mysterious train tracks. Onboard, you can rocket light-years in an instant, planet to planet, although some are mined-out wastelands and all are controlled by corporate families now that the Guardians—godlike Old Earth artificial intelligence—stay in the Datasea. Petty thief Zen Starling doesn’t think much of Guardians or corporate families; he does what he needs to to support his family. But when Raven, a strange pale man in a world where shades of brown are the norm for humanity, recruits him, Zen (with Motorik companion Nova, upgraded into an individual) finds himself impersonating a member of the Emperor’s family, stealing an ancient treasure, and possibly inciting world war. Reeve’s writing never flags, with moments of pathos and magic seamlessly interwoven. Dozens of characters collide—the sentient trains; the Motorik; the Emperor’s daughter Threnody and her boring but stalwart betrothed; Hive Monks; the Railforce agent who has tracked Raven across lifetimes—each one nearly as fascinating as the world Reeve has created (don’t miss the glossary at the end).
As he did with the Mortal Engines series, Reeve has crafted something at once weirdly familiar and marvelously original. Thank the stars there’s at least one sequel planned already. (Science fiction. 12 & up)