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Jack, Backwell School

Railhead

This is a wonderful sci-fi story. It captured my attention from the very beginning, and kept it throughout. However, that is not what makes it such a wonderful read. It is set in a distant imagining of a universe, and bares no relevance to ours. This gives Reeve an immense task. He has to create a picture inside the reader's head. He must make his world - no, his universe - sing to us. And that he indeed does. I have a very clear picture in my head of the world he has created. A picture beyond words and, I am sure, a picture no one else sees. He has manipulated his words to show every reader a different, and beautifully complex vision of the future.
I found, when reading that I could slip into this book, and lose my place in this world, only to re-materialise in his. I could travel along with our hero(?) as he finds his way in his universe.
When writing, I particularly struggle with names - they just don't come naturally to me. But Reeve has managed to master the fine art. There are many different worlds and cultures, all majestically interwoven, and the names fit perfectly. I have only seen names of similar diversity and suitability in one other book (series), that being the Hunger Games trilogy. And I hardly need tell you what a master piece that is.
Often with successful books, the film industry capitalise on them and create their own versions in film form. I often enjoy watching these adaptations as they bring to life a beloved story. I do confess that they can taint some views I have of characters, that they sometimes aren't the way I'd imagined them, and that there are slight storyline alterations, but films are nonetheless an enjoyable experience. They open up a whole new way to enjoy the story. However, the imagery conveyed by Reeve is so perfect that I sincerely hope that no film adaptation is created. I can watch a film version of the book in my head as I read, and any film would only ruin it. Reeve has mastered his descriptions to create subtlety and beauty individual to each reader. A film would satisfy the desires of very few people. In fact, with the constrictions of this world (a boundary Reeve has successfully smashed), a true adaptation may not even be possible. This book is a rare instance of a time when a different adaptation could only do harm.

Having now showered the book with the best praise I can give I now come to my only criticism, and that is the ending. In my opinion, this book requires a sequel. Throughout, Reeve creates so many questions, only to leave many unanswered. I can see why he has done this - he has thrown down the gauntlet to the reader. It is now our job to finish the wonderful work he has begun. In many cases, this would be a suitable approach, as different people may have read the story in different ways, and expect and desire different endings. However, Reeve's awesome subtlety would be able to create an ending in which every reader is entirely satisfied. His way of ending instead, unfortunately, gave me a sense of dread through the last 50 odd pages, as I slowly came to realise that the book would end in the unsatisfactory way it did, and this tainted my final experiences with this book, and the impression I retained when it was finished. To be able to see the beauty of the earlier parts, I have to look past the barrier of the ending, and I am not able to glance back at it with the lovely, warm feeling it had promised throughout.
Writing this has given me reason to look back carefully though, and I am able to, once again, see the majesty that makes this book a major contender - one of only 2 or 3 - to win the award.

Posted on: 26th April 2017 at 10:54 am

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