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Jess, Chobham Academy Book Group


'Railhead' is set in an amazing future where sentient trains transport people across large distances to other planets by K-Gates, a technology pioneered and protected by Guardians, powerful AIs who have the power and authority to name themselves the creators.
Zen Starling is a petty thief who is minding his own business when opportunity comes knocking with an offer it appears he can't refuse. What follows is an exciting heist story that quickly becomes something more, because of course the object of the heist is the key to a closely held and dangerous secret that the guardians are extremely anxious about.
Not enough can be said about the amazing world building in this book. It is incredibly detailed and imaginative, immediately bringing the story to life. Zen Starling is a flawed main character who struggles to do the 'right thing' in the face of an increasingly difficult situation. Used to being in a relatively simple world of black, he finds himself suddenly in uncertain waters and having to make decisions with implications that extend far beyond just himself.
The non-human characters in the story are equally well developed. The motorik, Nova starts out by recruiting Zen to work for her maker Raven, but it is obvious that she likes Zen too. She seems to have control over her own programming, but it's clear that Zen still harbours some bias and confusion about her motives simply because she is a machine and can be programmed. However, throughout the book they get closer and a close relationship is formed between them.
The whole issue of how much a non-human entity can feel and how it might express self-identity is dealt with very well throughout the book. This is an on-going issue not just for the humanoid motoriks, but also for the sentient trains themselves, and other characters such as the insect colonies who have formed into single-minded Hive Monks
I would rate 'Railhead' a 4.5/5 for its amazingly descriptive world and loveable characters. Personally, I do not read science-fiction but this book was too hard to put down. I would definitely recommend this book if you are ready for and adventure- I can't wait for the next book!

Posted on: 26th May 2017 at 10:31 pm

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