City of Rust by Gemma Fowler

I love sci-fi novels for children. Anything like Mortal Engines or The Last Human capture my attention. The fact that most present a world so messed up by the actions of adults means that children are also fascinated by them. Gemma Fowler adds another strong candidate to this genre.

Railey would like to think she dreams big. Aiming to be the best drone racer on the planet seems ambitious , until you find out that along with her gecko, Atti, she is destined to save the Earth. You know, standard stuff. Years of jettisoning our problems into orbit have create problems that no one envisioned. The Junkers live in this dangerous space, collecting trash to trade and re-purpose. One man’s rubbish is another’s treasure. Surrounding the Earth is space junk and what goes up must come down meaning, disaster for everyone.

City of Rust ticks every box of the fab sci-fiction checklist. Dystopian future – check, cool tech that seems believable – check, humble hero massively out of their depth – check, and finally, crazy villain who actually thinks they are on the side of the angels – CHECK. Gemma Fowler weaves together all of these elements to create a fast-paced tale that balances plot and character development so well that you have to applaud both aspects.

Now for the teacher bit. The story explains of the dangers of not dealing with our rubbish properly. In fact, it is ultimately a cautionary tale for how we need to be better inhabitants of Earth. This is an important thing to discuss with children and whenever we can have opportunities to make this the conversation, we must.

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A brilliant read! You will be willing Railey and Atti through every high speed twist and turn.

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