My first though upon picking up this book was that Harland was obviously inspired by Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series when he sat down to write Worldshaker. I couldn’t blame him – my own writing borrows heavily from Philip Reeve too. But I still began reading this book with a small degree of trepidation, lest Harland borrow too heavily from the world of Traction Cities and Municipal Darwinism.
However, I have since learned that Richard Harland conceived of the Juggernaut Worldshaker before the release of the Mortal Engines. This is nice to know, but fortunately was not necessary for me to enjoy this distinct and vivid book, which I believe stands very proudly next to Mortal Engines and many other young adult adventure stories from recent years.
Col Porpentine lives a privileged life in the upper decks of the Worldshaker, the great Juggernaut. He is destined to succeed his grandfather as Supreme Commander and is the centre of attention at the most elite social events. But when a ‘filthy’ escapes from below decks and hides out in his bedroom, Col’s safe and comfortable life is turned upside down.
Col has been brought up to believe that the filthies (who are forced to run the treacherous engines that drive the monstrous city) were subhuman savages. But Riff, the girl hiding in his cabin, is quick and smart and even (though he is ashamed to admit it) beautiful. As he continues his education to become Supreme Commander he can’t help but notice the contradictions between what he is told by his family and teachers and what he learns from his encounters with Riff.
Sooner or later he will have to confront these contradictions, especially as the first stirrings of rebellion begin to be heard from the steam filled underbelly of Worldshaker.
Set in an alternate Victorian-age industrial world, Worldshaker is a clever and engaging steam punk adventure. Harland has created a richly detailed and thoughtful world, with more than enough action to satisfy any young fan of science fiction.
*This review was adapted from a review written by me for the SF & Fantasy Buzz, the science fiction and fantasy newsletter for Booktopia.com.au*