Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

Scholastic, 2012, 388 p. Returned to a threatened library.

 Infernal Devices cover

The action in this novel takes place sixteen years on from the events in Predator’s Gold the previous (and second) of Reeve’s YA “Predator Cities” books. Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw have been living in the safety of Anchorage-in-Vineland for all that time. Their teenage daughter, Wren, however, has known no other life and is bored. As a consequence, when one of the burgling “Lost Boys” comes secretly to Anchorage in search of a relic from before the Sixty Minute War which led to the rise of the traction cities she is beguiled into helping him. This results in her abduction. Hester wades in rather heavy-handedly to try to prevent her kidnap but fails. The book follows Wren’s (mis)adventures and her parents’ search for her. Along the way we remake acquaintance with Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal, the anti-tractionist Green Storm and the Stalkers Anna Fang and Shrike.

The book is full of neat touches which may pass its YA readers by. Aeroplanes called Visible Panty Line or JMW Turner Overdrive or Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Machiney? An aviatrix calls to her sidekicks, “Algy? Ginger?” The slave-dealing Shkin corporation is “An Investor in People.” Hester seems more hard-bitten here than she did in the earlier books though it could be she is merely demonstrating she is her father’s daughter. Wren’s naivety can be a bit wearing but she has led a sheltered life. As is usual with YA there is plenty of action but also recognisable characterisation (even if its portrayal can be a bit over the top at times.)

Pedant’s corner:- into t he night (the night,) “I’ll pop the book back in my safe” (on the previous page the speaker had said “It’s in the safe in my office.”) Nabisco Shin (Nabisco Shkin,) casters (castors,) inside of (inside,) a missing end quote. In the publisher’s puff at the end (before extracts from Reeve’s GUIDE TO THE TRACTION ERA):- “The quartet are all available” (the quartet is.) In those extracts:- “with all both the” (no all, I think.)
But… plus points again for the diæresis used in aërobatics and aërodrome.

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