Title: Storm Thief
Author: Chris Wooding
Rail and Moa are thieves in the city of Orokos. For as long as anyone can remember, the city has been lashed by probability storms that change whatever they touch. You might find yourself left-handed, or on the other side of the city, or suffocating inside a wall. Rail has struggled with the effects of one storm that left him unable to breathe unassisted. And Moa prefers to live in less-dangerous dreams. Now they have their first taste of good fortune – a mysterious artifact that is wanted by the most powerful people in the city, and that would be a gift to any thief. But could it be more? Rail and Moa will have to run, fight, steal, and dodge storms to find out…and unlock Orokos’s deepest, most dangerous secrets.
I read Chris Woding’s Poison and Malace, so when I found his name on this book, it was yet another incentive to pick it up.
And, honestly, I liked Storm Thief, but I didn’t love it.
Rail was the leader, the one who put food on the table, so to speak. He was the strong one, the one who acted like he knew what he was doing even when he had no idea. He was also angry, though, mostly about the fact that he can’t breathe on his own. And he was more focused on making it through the the here-and-now alive than wanting a better future. I didn’t love him as a character, but I didn’t mind him.
Moa was the follower of the two. She preferred to follow Rail’s lead and have him tell her what to do and keep her safe. For the most part, she submitted to his leadership, but when it came to her dreams, she had a core of steel. And while I don’t generally like characters that are more passive, I really didn’t mind her.
From the back cover, I thought the probability storms would be a bigger deal than they actually were. There was one in the middle of the book, and there was uncertainty, like, “does this street go the same place today that it did last week?” but overall, they weren’t a huge deal.
The main focus of the plot was on the political system of Orokos. The oppressive Protectorate that made the poor people from the ghetto disappear, but the rich tolerate them because they make them feel safe from the deadly and invisible Revenants; the people who live in the cave called Kilatas want to sail away, and Moa wants to go with them; and the Protectorate wanting to use Rail and Moa and the mysterious artifact to get rid of the probability storms once and for all.
The plot was delightfully twisty and complicated, and I loved the world of Orokos. I loved the ideas and the technology and the probability storms. But the characters were only so-so, which kept me from loving Storm Thief. I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t love it.