City of Rust

Publisher: Chicken House

In a distant future, Earth has become so overrun with junk that people have started firing it into the atmosphere, creating a thick layer of trash known as The Soup orbiting the planet. Back on the wasteland of Earth, engineer Railey and her bio-robotic gecko Atti dream of winning the drone races in dusty Boxville – but when a terrifying bounty hunter hijacks their race to look for them, they’re forced to hide in the rubbish-filled atmosphere above.

No sooner have they escaped the bounty hunter, they have a bigger problem on their hands – hiding from the fearsome Junker gang who are hell-bent on firing a colossal trash-bomb back towards Earth. With the help of a couple of Junker kids and an ancient computer, Railey and Atti must save the planet from its own trash and run from the Junker gang’s megalomaniacal leader, the dreaded Izmae…

Fast-paced, filled with twists and turns, and set in a dystopian vision of Earth which serves as a stark warning of the dangers of pollution and climate change, City of Rust is a brilliant contemporary sci-fi adventure. Railey is a fantastic, gutsy, impulsive character whose quick tongue often gets her into trouble, and her skill as an engineer does a great service to encouraging women and girls with an interest in STEM subjects. Her chemistry with Atti, the sarcastic gecko, is adorable and believable, and there are some laugh-out-loud scenes of them arguing pettily with each other.

Gemma Fowler’s world-building is exceptional, and her version of Earth has echoes of Blade Runner, Wall-E and Star Wars. A thrilling galactic mystery with a powerful message at its heart about caring for the planet we call home.

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