Review: Black Light Express

cover-black light express.jpgTitle: Black Light Express
Author: Philip Reeve
Series: Railhead #2
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Length: Novel
Available: Now

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There was nothing, and then there was a train. A train with two passengers: a petty thief from a dead-end town, and an android girl who could be more human than the rest of us. Join Zen and Nova as they find out what really lies beyond the end of the universe . . .

Take a ride in Philip Reeve’s incredible imagination as he returns with this stellar follow-up to Railhead. Full of extraordinary beings and utterly real, complex characters, of thrills and thoughtful moments, this is a stunning step beyond the universe which will appeal to both sci-fi fans and foes alike.


Source: Review copy from Oxford University Press via Amazon Vine

I loved Railhead – it was pure imagination and wonder, wrapped up in adventure with amazing characters – so I was excited for this sequel. And while I did enjoy it, I also didn’t enjoy it quite as much.

There is still wonder here. The Web of Worlds that Zen and Nova discover is incredible, full of strange and mysterious races, but this story isn’t really much about them. In fact, even though Zen and Nova start this book, they then vanish for a big chunk of it while we catch up with other characters and indulge in a little empire politics.

There is a lot going on in this book, perhaps a little too much at times. There is certainly plenty of action, but it rather overwhelms everything else. I felt a bit apart from all the characters here, even the ones I loved before. Zen is a little less interesting, a bit more tame and heroic, while Nova is still great but completely swept up in events. I couldn’t warm to Chandni and Threnody mostly got on my nerves.

I would have liked more trains too, though it was great to see the Damask Rose again and the Ghost Wolf is amazing. I really want to know what happened with it. And things with the Guardians was certainly interesting.

Overall this is a good read. It’s fast and never dull, rushing from place to place and event to event, leaving very little time to breathe. There is a bit of wonder too at the new Web of Worlds, and there’s certainly danger aplenty as the characters bumble along. It is also clearly far from over, with many questions being left unanswered and potential trouble still brewing. It didn’t bowl me over like Railhead did, but I still really want to know what happens next.


Black Light Express is Out Now.
Visit Philip Reeve for more details.

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