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Book Review: City of Rust by Gemma Fowler


Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth. Rescued by a couple of Junker kids, they discover a danger bigger than anything they'd imagined - but can three kids, a gecko and an ancient computer save the world against the huge trash bomb (and its power-crazed creator) threatening to destroy the world?


The YA novels of 2013 have returned in the form of City of Rust, a sci-fi for tweens that melds the themes of Wall-e and dystopian future teen novels. City of Rust touches on topics like dementia, climate change and the slow destruction of society that results from Earth becoming a wasteland. The people of Boxville treat Railey's grandma who has dementia like her impairment is a form of entertainment, enjoying her outbursts and egging her on to harm a young man when she threatens to attack him during an episode. As Railey describes it, Boxville is a dog eats dog world where people only look out for themselves - an unfortunate side effect of the downfall of the economy after all resources were drained and space was filled with rubbish.

This book perfectly illustrates to the reader the importance of selflessness, prejudice, community and caring for future generations. A person who plants a tree does not do it for themselves but for the people who will marvel at that tree long after that person has gone, and that is the essence of this book. City of Rust also touches on classism between Boxville and Glass City, a clean eutopia reminiscent of the Capitol in The Hunger Games that outsources all of its rubbish to Boxville - out of sight, out of mind (think of the food catapult in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

However, just like in CWACOM this consumerist attitude catches up to the planet as the trash 'Soup' surrounding the planet has become so large that it threatens to wipe out everyone on Earth. Super smart engineer Railey and her new Junker friends (a group of people that the individuals of Boxville tend to look down upon) have to team up to save the Earth from this man-made disaster. This team-up breaks down the prejudices held by Railey and her grandma about Junkers and shows the reader the meaning of 'strength in numbers'. This book would be perfect for anyone who loves science, engineering and technology, the environment, dystopian novels and adventure.

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