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Infernal Devices, by Philip Reeve: Review

Fifteen-year-old Wren Natsworthy has grown up in Anchorage, the Traction City-turned-static on the dead North American continent. Her parents, Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw, may be content with a quiet life after their years of adventure, but Wren is starving for an adventure of her own . . . and she doesn't think twice when one is offered.

It seems so simple. A charming pirate. A task to steal a relic that no one is likely to miss. A simple transaction that could be Wren's escape from life in Anchorage . . . until that transaction throws Wren into the crosshairs of a raging war entangling old foes and new.

While I'm not overly fond of the direction some characters took, I found Infernal Devices to be the most gripping of the first three Predator Cities novels. The climax is dynamic and full of little surprises, not to mention jarring twists that left me shouting at my Kobo, and it's interesting to see Tom and Hester in parental roles. Their approaches are drastically different, which makes for an interesting story, but a pretty precarious family dynamic that I found kind of sad. I must confess that my opinion of Hester has taken a pretty steep nose-dive after this one.

Content Notes: "d*mn" is used minimally, and one morally feeble character is a known womanizer. Hester leaves a trail of remorseless killings pretty much wherever she goes. False deities are observed universally and assist in absolutely nothing—BUT, one character appeals to the true God and finds a sense of peace in a moment of terror, which I loved.

All in all, this is a thrilling, ever-surprising, if semi-violent story that exposes the disastrous cost of rifts within families as much as of literal war.

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