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Tessa , Palmers Green High School

Railhead

I am an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and adventure so this book was exactly in my wheelhouse; however, what I did not expect was to so thoroughly enjoy Philip Reeve’s writing style and be so immersed in the plot that putting the book down made the time that I was not reading dismal and tedious. ‘Railhead’ is a book set 1000 years in the future in a universe where a large part of the galaxy is connected by a railway known as ‘The Network’ which is an intergalactic web that connects all the stations together through mysterious gates, or ‘K-gates’ that are controlled and ‘protected’ by 12 twelve Guardians, although I am still unsure whether I see them as benevolent protectors, or misguided tyrants.
In ‘Railhead’s universe, there are 964 K-gates inside train (or K-Bahn) stations that are in ‘The Network’, which is also known as the ‘kilophylae’ even though there are not 1000 stations. Each station leads to a new planet, or a new city, and I was smitten with the idea of being able to get on a train and go anywhere in the universe that you wished to go to. ‘Railhead’ is full of mysteries and plot twists, and it held the aura and kept the reader in the universe by not explaining the full history of the universe and a character. I loved the way that something that is so unimaginable for us now and is science fiction in this age, is something that is totally normal for Zen and Nova because it drove home how different their lives are to ours (and it made me very jealous as intergalactic travel is something I would love to experience).
And yet, my favourite thing about ‘Railhead’ so far is the characters and how real they feel. They have so much depth and interact with each other so realistically that when the plot thickened and the relationships between them got increasingly complicated, I was completely at a loss as to who I agreed with: Raven, Zen or the Guardians.
Without a doubt, my favourite character was Flex. I liked how Flex (I am going to use male pronouns as that was the gender he last used) was not how he was created to be but the different version was the better version of him because his unique abilities made him exclusive, and most of all I loved how he was able to communicate with the trains and fulfil their wishes as to what they wanted to look like.
I recommend ‘Railhead’ for all readers around 11 and 12 because there are some very descriptive and mildly gory character deaths and I feel that younger readers would struggle to be able to fully grasp the plot and comprehend why it was happening; however, I loved this book, and although the issue it was based off is slightly obscured (which I won’t disclose as it is a spoiler), I desperately hope that this book wins the Carnegie Award.

Posted on: 22nd April 2017 at 11:33 am

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