The crib is everywhere . . .
Edie Sha’nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie’s extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate–or else she will watch Finn die–Edie is shocked to discover the Crib’s new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.
But escape–for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young–will require the ultimate sacrifice . . . and a shocking act of rebellion.
This didn’t start how I imagined it would. The confusion could have been avoided had I read the blurb for the second book, but I didn’t and I had a expectations of where Edie and Finn were going. They took a small detour to two different planets instead. Not that this is a bad thing but I had hoped to see more of the Fringe, which we never got to do.
The book starts with Edie and Finn on the run. They need to find the neuroxin, a kind of toxin that keeps Edie alive. After ensuring her continued existence, Edie, Finn, and Cat head towards the Fringe. They’re captured relatively quickly and brought back to Natesa who is still fixated on using Edie to further her own goals. Only she’s not using Edie alone. There are other children, talented like Edie, being manipulated to do their duty to Crib Colonial Unit. There’s politics, there’s human suffering, and there’s foreign intelligence. What more could you ask for?
This isn’t a trilogy, this is a story told in two parts. And just like the Song, the Children of Scarabaeus starts slowly. The first forty and fifty pages weren’t the problem for me, the struggle came later when Creasy decided to deepen the characterisations and relationships. For a while it felt incongruous with the rest of the story as logical as the development was. Instead of talking to each other, both Edie and Finn kept their secrets until it was too late to say anything. But then, luckily, the plot took over and the adventure continued.
Edie returns to Scarabaeus to finish what she started years ago and to save a handful of lives on the side. She and Finn talk, and disagree, but neither is a match for the planet. We get to see another side of Scarabaeus, barren but just as deadly as the megabiosis of the first book was.
In some ways the world building in the Scarabaues books seems superficial, but I love the subtlety of it. It feels like the books only scratched the surface of a bigger world, and not only because we never get to see the Fringe worlds. I want more of everything. More of CCU, Fringe, politics, and war. Sadly, I don’t know if I ever get it.