Railhead (Railhead #1)
Railhead (Railhead #1) by Philip Reeve
Come with me, Zen Starling, she had said. The girl in the red coat. But how did she know his name?
The Great Network is a place of drones and androids, maintenance spiders and Station Angels. The place of the thousand gates, where sentient trains criss-cross the galaxy in a heartbeat.
Zen starling is a petty thief, a street urchin from Thunder City. So when mysterious stranger Raven sends Zen and his new friend Nova on a mission to infiltrate the Emperor's train, he jumps at the chance to traverse the Great Network, to cross the galaxy in a heartbeat, to meet interesting people - and to steal their stuff.
But the Great Network is a dangerous place, and Zen has no idea where his journey will take him.
"It's called the Pyxis," said Raven. "Don't let the fancy name intimidate you. It just means 'box' in one of those Old Earth languages, Roman or Spanish or Klingon..."
Sometimes when we read a book it sounds great … on paper (puns!). This was one of those for me. I admire the concept behind it, there are a lot of great ideas all packed within this story, it’s fast-paced, it’s engaging, there are a lot of interesting characters. My problem was: it felt like a dead thing to me. Yeah, sure, the characters were theoretically interesting but I couldn’t relate to them or their relationships to each other (and, honestly, sometimes it felt like neither could they), the story was fast-paced but that made me feel like it was just flying past me, the ideas, while they were interesting, weren’t explored or explained enough for me to actually be able to engage with the world meaningfully.
I could take a step back and instead of describing this story as “a dead thing” I could tell you that it felt like a story noticeably written for children. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but it wasn’t what I wanted from this book. There are times when I love children’s books but not right now. Also, I usually dislike those types of children’s books where everything has to be super quick and superficial (so, like, exactly what this one was for me).
In defense of this book: All the good things I wrote above (and haven’t disputed) are actually good and I readily believe that there are a lot of people out there who’d love it. In all honesty, this was much more of an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation than anything else. Still, I didn’t get along with, which makes this whole ordeal very disappointing.
Frankly, I wish I could give this a better review because most of the elements were there they just weren’t connected/explored properly and, thus, I wasn't able to appreciate what they did right because I was just so disappointed all the time. Actually, come to think of it, this reminded me of the time I read Dark Matter only I enjoyed Railhead less because it wasn't written as well as the former. That being said, I do want to check out the second book and see where this story goes because it does have the potential to lead somewhere great.
Sadly, I'm somewhat torn between 2.5 and 3 stars, but I do have for this series and I want to stick with 3/5 stars.
Author: Philip Reeve
Publisher: Oxford University Press