Your Humble Blogger has been on a bit of a spree with the YA/SF sequels. Sequels generally, if you count the dragon book. Let’s see: Dragon book was better than I expected and better than the previous book, so I’m excited about the future of the series again; Keys to the Kingdom was disappointing, but I am looking forward to the last book in the series; the Marigold sequel was enjoyable but unnecessary, and then there’s the cathedral sequel and I’m halfway through the Percy Jackson.
And now there’s the last book in Philip Reeve’s Hungry City series, A Darkling Plain, and not only is it better than the previous book (or the one before, I think), but it is the conclusion of the series, and a fitting conclusion at that.
So, you know how there are book series that just seem to go on and on, evolving and whatnot, and there are book series that are designed to be a certain number of books and be over? With Hungry City, the early books seemed to me like the first kind of series, open-ended and ongoing, but it turns out that it was the second kind. Mr. Reeve wrapped the whole thing up in a book that was exciting and action-packed on its own (zeppelins! MagLev!) but also fulfilling as the completion of the series. We don’t meet many new characters (two? three? And only one plays a major role), but the old characters change or reveal new aspects, and besides, who needs to waste time with a lot of tedious character development when there are bad guys shooting at you.
OK, so the book does contain #6 on the list of the World’s Most Annoying Plot Devices (that’s not just YHB’s personal opinion, by the way, that’s science), but at least it didn’t really waste my time with it. Hey! it said, Crazy cyborg is using long-dormant satellite weapons to destroy the earth! and then proceeded to get all the important characters up the mountain to the control center to, you know, shoot at each other and throw knives at each other and keep cyborg ravens with deadly talons from shredding their gasbags. And the characters we have been more or less following for four books come to terms with who they are, and all that, but not in some tedious self-reflective tea-drinking way (I could do that myself) but in a kick-ass gunfire and cyborgs and zeppelins and buildings blowing up and whole cities blowing up and major characters blowing up sort of way. So that’s all right.
On the other hand, fair warning that a lot of NPC’s are slaughtered in this book, and a significant number of speaking roles as well. The series has always been pretty violent, and violent in that way that leaves a lot of corpses littering the landscape, but this kicks it up a proverbial.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,