Railhead➹ [Read] ➵ Railhead By Philip Reeve ➼ – Oaklandjobs.co.uk Come with me Zen Starling she had said The girl in the red coat But how did she know his name The Great Network is a place of drones and androids maintenance spiders and Station Angels The place of th Come with me Zen Starling she had said The girl in the red coat But how did she know his name The Great Network is a place of drones and androids maintenance spiders and Station Angels The place of the thousand gates where sentient trains criss cross the galaxy in a heartbeat Zen Starling is a petty thief a street urchin from Thunder City So when mysterious stranger Raven sends Zen and his new friend Nova on a mission to infiltrate the Emperor's train he jumps at the chance to traverse the Great Network to cross the galaxy in a heartbeat to meet interesting people and to steal their stuff But the Great Network is a dangerous place and Zen has no idea where his journey will take him. “Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to know what’s beyond that gate?” This is a book for the curious This is for those readers who get excited by possibility If you like the idea of a great wild universe spread out before you full of mysteries and secrets then I highly recommend you step into this worldReeve has created one of the richest most imaginative worlds I have ever read about It's set many centuries into our future when Old Earth has been left behind and a great network of mysterious train tracks run through the universe Let one take you where you want to go where you've never been or even to places you never knew existed “You step aboard a train and the train goes through a K gate and you step off on another planet where the sun that was shining on you a moment ago is now just one of those tiny stars in the sky” It's a compelling heist set to the backdrop of this complex web of science mystery droids and emperors all of which make up the future of space civilization To be honest it took my breath away I read this book in wide eyed wonderment from the very first pages to the ending Words and imagery collide to make the impossible seem so realIt's a fast paced constantly moving journey of excitement as Zen Starling a street rat from Thunder City is given the opportunity to play a part infiltrate the Emperor's train hang out with the aristocrats and ultimately steal an old mysterious box for the eually mysterious Raven Yes yes it is all of that It's pretending and nearly dying and uncovering secrets It's runaway trains and betrayals and weird creatures called Hive Monks “He was a Hive Monk a colony of big brown beetles clinging to a roughly human shaped armature” BUT this book is so much richer than all of that Every word counts uestions arise about authority and the relationship between power and knowledge how those in power have the ability to define knowledge and truth Reeve's droids beg the uestion of what it means to be human Are sentient droids really anything other than people made from different materials? “I am human” she said “I have a processor for a brain instead of a lump of meat and my body is made of different substances but I have feelings and dreams and things like humans do” It's also a really diverse novel Most of the characters including Zen are described as brown or dark skinned with white people being a minority Which actually makes a lot sense than most novels given that white people are only about 15% of today's population and that is estimated to drop below 10% in the next fifty years Not only that but there is diverse sexuality with men married to men and women married to women And the genderless droids make room for discussion about the differences between men and women how much difference really exists beyond the way the world sees you?It's such a great story both interesting in concept and heart pounding I loved how there were no simple villains and the bad guy is not all he seems He has his own back story that shapes him into than a one dimensional character with a mindless agenda And Zen Starling is not a typical hero either He does some awful things in order to survive and he is allowed to make mistakes and be selfishIn short This is a clever sci fi novel that makes space seem utterly magical Doors to other worlds ancient civilizations and a whole universe of possibility The ending closes the door on this chapter but it's left in a perfect position to open another one I get goosebumps just thinking about where that might take us “He was going to miss everything But he guessed that was how everybody always felt Everyone was losing things leaving things behind clinging to old memories as they rushed into the future Everyone was a passenger on a runaway train” Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store Cyberpunk ish YA adventure with an immediately appealing immersive writing styleZen Starling makes his way by petty thievery He lives with his older sister and his mother who appears to be a paranoid schizophrenic Throughout his childhood she's dragged them from one placeto the next never settling down insisting that they're being pursued by shadowy enemies But as the adage says just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you And that's what Zen learns when after stealing a necklace one day he finds himself pursued by a high tech drone After also encountering a mysterious girl and finding his favorite pawnbroker attacked Zen realizes that he may be in a heap of troubleThe initial set up here reminded me a lot of 'The Ice Owl' by Carolyn Ives Gilman The primary 'gimmick' here is that easy casual travel between worlds has been made possible by a network of trans dimensional trains No one really knows how they work and the network's origin is shrouded in mystery but they're a part of daily life that is taken for granted So Zen can steal a necklace on one world hop a train and be back for dinner in another galaxy on timeOverall this was a very enjoyable book but I did have a few issues with it some major than othersOn the very minor end the character of Zen the way he's written feels 12 or 13 When later in the story he's expected to impersonate a college student and therefore must be at least 17 I found it very jarringI think the story as a whole would've been improved with less uest for the MacGuffinOn a significant level there is a point in the story where Zen does something really truly horrific view spoilerAn act of mass murder and terrorism hide spoiler 45 stars rounded up After thinking about it for a couple of days I rounded up my star rating on this one This book is just so imaginative it really deserves itRailhead is set in a fantastic future where sentient trains transport people across vast distances to other planets by means of K Gates a technology pioneered and protected by Guardians powerful AIs who long ago appointed themselves caretakers of humanity 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 uickly becomes something because of course the object of the heist is the key to a closely held and dangerous secretNot 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 and white and small time stakes he finds himself suddenly in uncertain waters and having to make decisions with implications that extend far beyond just himselfThe non human characters in the story are eually well developed The Motorik or android 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 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 ongoing 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 The finish to the story brings everything nicely to a close but leaves the door open to books being set in this world I would be than happy to read any that are “Thing about trains” said Zen “you’ll have to give them something in return for carrying you If you do they’ll take you to any star system that you want” It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book with a world so rich Philip Reeve wrote an absolute gem of a middle grade sci fi story that will take you on a mind blowing journey across the universe You’ll meet many people of colour droids who acts like humans and these incredible beings called Hive Monks He was a colony of big brown beetles clinging to a roughly human shaped armature which they’d made for themselves out of sticks and string and chicken bones He wore a paper wasp’s nest for a face and out of the mouth hole came a voice that was made by a thousand saw toothed limbs rubbing together On this journey we follow Zen Starling Zen is a young black small time criminal who spends his days robbing unsuspecting shop owners and riding the space trains that can take you to any universe in the galaxy One day a mysterious man called Raven approaches him with an offer he wants Zen to infiltrate a space train owned by the Imperial Noon family to steal an object hidden away on that train On this mission Zen will be accompanied by Nova Raven’s personal droid and with her technological knowledge this job should be a piece of cake right?Of course not and Zen soon finds himself in an adventure too big and too dangerous for a boy of just twelve years old There are ruthless drones rich families fighting for power a God with a wish for revenge and connecting them all are the sentient space trains that link all the worlds in the galaxy with each other “You step aboard a train and the train goes through a K gate and you step off on another planet where the sun that was shining on you a moment ago is now just one of those tiny stars in the sky” But apart from the incredible world building and the thrilling heist it are the diverse characters that make this story so compelling Most of them are people of colour – white people are the minority – and among them we find men married to men and women married to women The humanlike droids Nova and Flex don’t only raise uestions about humanity but also about gender and the space trains themselves show that you don’t need a human body to have character I also think it’s fascinating that many of the characters are morally grey including Zen He’s a good kid but not a good hero He wasn’t out to save the day he just wanted to save himself and Nova” To find such an imperfect hero in a middle grade book is rare but then again none of the characters in this book are one dimensional Everyone even the ‘villains’ have their own goals that make them neither good or bad So I would recommend Railhead to the curious ones To the readers who like space and thieves and trains; who want to go on a heart pounding adventure with eccentric characters whom asks us uestions about humanity authority and knowledge This wild train ride certainly deserves four stars and although you can read this as a stand alone I'm definitely interested in reading the second novelRead here my reviews of the other books in the Railhead series #2 Black Light Express | #3 Station Zero More middle grade than YA but I did enjoy this sci fi adventure At times it felt a little jumbled and all over the place however the uniueness of the world kept me interested Giving personalities to trains was pretty cool Hard to find much to say about this while I enjoyed it for the most part it was still rather middle of the road The ending was very frustrating 255 A heist stargates a space railway sentient trains robot friends and super AIs Why haven't you read this yet?Humanity has spread to the stars via a network of K gates which are only passable in a sealed environment traveling at speed so trains The K gate network is a multi world rail network traveled by super advanced trains with AIs In one corner of the galaxy railhead and thief Zen Starling seems to be in trouble than usualZen finds himself performing a simple heist but soon finds himself caught up in an ancient grudge match between the ruling classes of this society with the future fate of humanity in the balanceThis reads like a YA version of The Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton and has elements of Hyperion by Dan Simmons as well but has its own uniue flavor besides There's themes about different levels of intelligence and how they see each other and what they want There's also some uiet elements of affection between all of the main players The agent of the imperium could very easily have been an obsessive and vindictive one dimensional character but he was far from that Raven the bad guy has so many layers that it's difficult to condemn him It's got a lot of depth for a YA book and deserves to be read widely than it has been DNF at 100 pages in I think I would've loved this book if I'd read it at a younger age Unfortunately I think this series is no longer for me The characters are fine the dialog is well written and the worldbuilding is interesting but this is far middle grade than anything else Not my thing The writing is really getting on my nerves It's really immature complete with that severe overuse of ellipses here Oh well Review not posted as I don't have much of a review so much as a realization that this series is no longer for me Railhead was a book that I had seen in my local library and appealed to me since at the time I was looking for a science fiction novel to read and enjoy However after finishing this one I'm feeling slightly disappointed by how the story turned out Zen Starling is a thief and goes stealing lots of people's processions He also lives in the Great Network which is full of trains and railway lines so exploring the areas is his main priority He meets Raven who challenges him to steal from the Emperor's train and pretend to be a relative from the Emperor's family he works with his friend Nova to uncover hidden secrets and not get killed in the process With an interesting concept and lots of twists that I generally didn't see coming a number of things sadly dampened my expectatations The terminology was confusing at times to understand I struggled to connect with Zen as a character He did remind me at times of the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist however which is one of the fictional characters that I enjoy The last thirty pages in particular were extremely thrilling but by this point I felt that the writing style just didn't work for me The ending was also a cliffhanger which I'm not a huge fan ofI have tried to read Mortal Engines by the same author in the past but ended up DNF'ing it twice due to the complexity of the plotline I am most likely not going to be reading the seuel for this one Everyone was a passenger on a runaway trainStunning imaginative original Character led Sci fiLOVED it 45 Stars What a delightfully weird read I don't think even it's harshest critics could deny that this book brings something completely different to YA sci fi which is uite an achievement as this is definitely an over saturated market Railhead follows Zen Starling a petty thief who's recruited by the mysterious Raven to infiltrate the most powerful family in the galaxy and steal something for him The story is set thousands of years in the future and revolves around an intergalactic rail network that goes through tunnels which essentially function like wormholes; a distance of ten thousand light years becomes a short commute to work on these trains I love this concept with the idea of each station being in a different distinct world Some worlds are industrial and smoggy such as Zen's home and others are constantly sunny and filled with the holiday homes of the galaxy's richest Maybe one of the reasons I loved this concept so much aside from the refreshing novelty of it all was because I'm a bit of a 'railhead' myself and have always enjoyed travelling on trains Although this intergalactic train service certainly puts my own commute through a small stretch of English countryside into perspectiveAs if this rail network wasn't strange enough the trains themselves seem to be alive and have their own thoughts which they are able to communicate to people Each train has its own distinctive character from the sadistic Thought Fox to the incredibly sassy Damask Rose a train which probably has wit and humour than most literary characters I've read ''It was not a train that said much or sang for joy as it sped along the way other trains did but after it had smashed that barrier it laughed softly to itself The deep unsettling sound gurgled out of the speakers in the carriage ceiling startling Zen who sat perched on the edge of his seat impatient for the journey to be over'' This book also addresses deeper issues of gender and what it really means via the 'Motorik' life like robots who can change gender at will and also issues of what it means to be human via the very same Motorik One of the main characters Nova is one of them and it wasn't lost on me that she also happened to be the most compassionate and emotionally sensitive character in the book Nova herself certainly doesn't see what makes her so different from Zen besides the fact that she is made from a different substance ''I am human'' she said ''I have a processor for a brain instead of a lump of meat and my body is made from different substances but I have feelings and dreams and things like humans do'' Deep stuff for what was originally marketed as a children's sci fi novel However there were other bizarre elements in this world which I felt weren't executed uite as well as the sentient trains The 'Hive Monks' figures made up from insects who are at some point able to become sentient for some reason? were just creepy and I felt as if they just unnecessarily weighed down the plot Zen didn't like being around them I didn't like reading about them and I don't know why the author felt the need to include any bizarre sci fi elements I hope they'll be absent from the seuelAll in all I really enjoyed this book and I'm rating it at 45 stars because it genuinely surprised me and broke away from the typical mould of sci fi novels with regards to both the plot and the relationship between the characters Although I generally round down my 45 star ratings to 4 stars the fact that this book is so underrated and practically unheard of on the sci fi scene makes me inclined to be generous So I'll round it up to five stars and hope the second book can maintain the high standard of the first

Paperback  Ù Railhead MOBI ¼
  • Paperback
  • 299 pages
  • Railhead
  • Philip Reeve
  • English
  • 20 May 2014
  • 9780192742766