Black Light Express is the action packed sequel to Philip Reeve’s Carnegie nominated Railhead and it picks up directly from where its predecessor left off. As Black Light Express is the second book in Reeve’s series, I recommend you to read Railhead first. This review may contain spoilers for those who have not read it.
Black Light Express is set in the same fantastic futuristic universe where trains can transport you from one world to another world in the blink of an eye. They manage this by travelling through Reeve’s invention; K-Gates. In Reeve’s rich universe, the trains have personalities and can communicate with people. This universe is entirely believable as a result of the intricate detail and immense imagination, which Reeve uses to illustrate his book in his readers’ minds. The sheer inventiveness and imagination of this series is a great accomplishment. Reeve has created a universe rich in detail, and incredibly appealing to a teenage audience. From start to finish, Black Light Express is a thrilling, action packed story, which captivates readers and keeps them turning to the next page.
In contrast to Railhead, this book switches its focus to Threnody rather than the main protagonist, Zen Starling. Threnody gets made into the Empress after her father dies as a result of Zen’s actions in Railhead. Zen and his Motorik friend, Nova are fugitives from the law hiding out on an unexplored moon, with their romantic relationship blossoming with each new day. However, Threnody has to pick up the pieces of the events in Railhead and contend with rival houses fighting for her throne. Threnody makes a formidable female protagonist in this novel. Her struggle to hold the thrones against rival clans, arranged marriages, planned coups and assassinations made me feel like I was reading a sci-fi, futuristic version of Game of Thrones. Similarly, it left me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to come next.
In this series, Reeve has built an incredible universe which is thrilling. Just when you think that something has resolved, Reeve throws a spanner in the works and keeps you hooked. Similarly to Railhead, Black Light Express is packed to the rafters with action scenes which are thrilling and exciting. It is a novel which stays in full throttle from the start. This will appeal highly to a teenage audience and adults alike.
I have no idea how Reeve has the imagination to build so many vivid worlds and the plethora of fascinating races that inhabit them. In Black Light Express he creates new worlds at a rate of knots. I particularly enjoyed the water moon in which Zen and Nova’s romance blooms. However, for me, Reeve’s most wonderful creation is the warlike Lizard race, the Kraitt, where the females slaughter each other until one is only victorious and can breed with males, who are their inferior servants.
Overall, I love this series and can’t wait to read the third novel. Black Light Express is a thrilling sci-fi adventure with wonderful characters and worlds created with incredible imagination and etched out in the most vivid detail. Philip Reeve is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors!
RATING = ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐