Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Book I Want: The City's Son

There's one main reason I'm excited about The City's Son: it's a young adult title with a very unusual plot. It's not often, these days, that something original appears in that genre - or at least, something that breaks the mold a little.

The City's Son follows Beth, a teenage graffiti artist who runs away after her best friend betrays her. She turns to life on the streets - streets full of strange happenings, because unusual gods and menaces lurk in the shadows. Beth meets Filius Viae, or Urchin, the crown prince of London's underworld, whose mother is one of those gods - Mater Viae, Our Lady of the Streets.

Mater Viae has been missing for fifteen years, though; rumors say she's returning soon. Reach, the god of urban decay, wants to kill Filius before his mother returns. So Beth helps him to raise an army - and then is forced to choose between her old life and her new one.

Having read only the first chapter, I'm both entranced and confused by this book. The characters, setting, and style all remind me greatly of Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (and I'm not the only one - a review on Fantasy Book Critic draws a Mieville comparison, too). It's the combination of grit and a supernatural cityscape, I think - plus a touch of the ethereal, in those gods.

Pollock's writing brings even the most inane things to life. For example:

"It was train-like, but more animal, somehow. Its whistle was a howl, it was draped in a pelt of tangled cables and its chassis was scabbed with rust and graffiti. Cataracts of smashed glass covered its windows. Great rents had been torn from its hull as though by massive claws.
"The train-thing emitted a hydraulic snort and impatiently shifted its wheels."

Slightly creepy, definitely anthropomorphic, and a promise of many more bizarre things to come - that quote is from page 38. And this is the first title in a trilogy.

One last thing to mention: the cover above is the English version; the one below is for the U.S. Do publishers think U.S. teens won't pick up this book without a shirtless guy on the cover? I love the whimsical but still creepy style of the English cover. Why couldn't the U.S. one get fun artwork, too?

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