Title: Storm Thief
Author: Chris Wooding
Rail and Moa are thieves in Orokos, a city plagued by probability storms. When the storms pass, anything and everything is subject to change. Both of them know it: Rail has to use a respirator now just to breathe, and Moa changed to being left-handed. People fear the storms as much as they fear the Revenants, the ghostlike beings who kill with a touch and possess dead bodies. But when Rail and Moa uncover an artifact, they end up on the run from everything.
I was intrigued by the description of the probability storms, and they did indeed end up being my favorite part of the book. There weren’t many changes shown, but the ones that were had an inventive streak: a girl now trapped to live inside pictures, Rail’s own condition of not being able to breathe, and a few alien-like mutations, including one with a very tenuous grasp on time. The setting, too, offered glimpses of the magical Fade technology mingled with a more humble and mundane kind of slums.
But I found myself underwhelmed by the rest of the story. Rail is a tough-as-nails ghetto thief who likes Moa and will do anything for her. Moa has an innocent faith in people and a hope for a better future. Vago is the childlike monster Moa befriends and Rail hates. And that’s pretty much it. Everyone is fairly one-dimensional, whether it’s main characters or secondary, and despite alien-ish species featuring heavily into the beginning, they aren’t even mentioned most of the rest of the book.
The ending felt like it was trying to make some kind of statement but never quite getting there. At least the story admits that the problem with utopias is human nature inevitably ruins them. And leaving Vago on that note felt odd: it’s a pretty good depiction of what I would call Hell, not Limbo.
Overall this isn’t a bad read, just one where the plot and characters felt like they fell short of what the world had to offer. I rate this book Neutral.