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Oscar, Fortismere


Railhead: A review

Railhead is a science fiction novel written by Phillip Reeves. The novel is set in a universe where people travel through gateways to reach other planets on special trains. Nothing else can go through these gateways: the trains, however, are sentient beings. The story follows a young person named Zen Starling, who loves trains and is, therefore, a railhead. He is enlisted by Raven and Nova (a sentient android being called a motorik) to rob the emperor's train (called the ‘Noon Train’). This causes Zen to uncover secrets kept from all three forms of intelligent life Zen encounters, humans, motorik and Hive Monks (insect swarms). In the end, Zen falls in love with Nova.

The novel is narrated in third person by a narrator. The reader is limited to Zen’s knowledge for most of the time.

The novel is set in the far future throughout many planets. Humanity has sprawled over the galaxy and can travel massive distances in seconds. Reeve is able to create a world that seems real, it has an interesting history and a wonderful society. The Noon family rule the galaxy, the only things that are more powerful are the all knowing god figures called the guardians. The setting is diverse. Parts of the setting are dank and decaying corners of the galaxy in contrast to parts which are rich and elaborate. This helps create an even more realistic world.

The theme of the book is not to follow prejudices. Motorik were hated: but throughout the novel the reader discovers they are fully sentient beings that in almost every way are human. Reeves could be referencing to issues of racism in the real world, and highlighting how ludicrous racist views are, yet adding more meaning to the novel.

Overall I cannot rate Railhead highly enough, it is an excellent novel, with enough depth to analyse deeply while not being slow and cumbersome to read. Reeve has created a deep and wonderful world and a fantastic plot. This deserves to win the Carnegie award 5 times over and is one of the most deep and meaningful books I have ever read and in terms of world building rivals Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings.
Score: 10/10 A masterpiece

Posted on: 20th April 2017 at 09:05 pm

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