Reaper’s Legacy is the second book in Tim Lebbon’s young-adult paranormal adventure series TOXIC CITY. In London Eye, someone released a strange serum or toxin called Evolve into London, two years earlier, a day now called Doomsday. Millions died. The world has been told that the entire city is a poisoned wasteland, cut off from the rest of England, but within the city, the survivors are changing, mutating, developing paranormal abilities. Jack is searching the deadly ruins of the city to rescue his mother and sister; while his friend Lucy-Anne, aided by the enigmatic boy Rook, seeks her missing brother in Hampstead Heath. Lucy-Anne has precognitive dreams, and as the book opens she is haunted by a dream that ends with a nuclear mushroom cloud engulfing London.
I have not read London Eye, but I think I picked up what was going on pretty easily. Lebbon shifts point of view chapter by chapter, between Jack and Lucy-Anne, and this maintains the suspense and creates good pacing. Jack’s mother and sister are being held in the enigmatic Camp H by a group called the Choppers, ruthless former military who dissect the bodies and “chop up” the brains of those paranormals they capture (hence the name Choppers). The Choppers are led by Miller, whose connection to Evolve is apparently closer than first realized. Another group of paranormals, whose leader, the Reaper, is Jack’s father, kill Choppers. Reaper can kill with his voice. There is very little of Jack’s dad left inside Reaper’s psyche. The biggest wild card in Jack’s story, though, is Jack himself. Because of an encounter with the woman called Nomad, Jack is rapidly developing a constellation of powers. One of the nicest bits in the book is Jack’s visualization of his abilities as an actual constellation; a swirl of stars, each star representing a power. His growing gifts create distance between him and his two more normal friends Jenna and Sparky.
Lucy-Anne’s gift, on the other hand, is something she had before Doomsday. Rook tells her that she is Pure — someone who was not changed by Evolve. Rook is in communication with birds, mostly rooks, which is why he chose that name. His brother David had the ability to communicate with birds before Doomsday. Somehow, after Evolve was dispersed, Rook developed the ability also.
Jack’s story follows a straight adventure plot as he struggles to broker a truce between Reaper’s group and another collection of paranormals. Lucy-Anne’s story is more consciously strange. She and Rook delve into the north London, where the mutations are the worst and the “monsters” have gathered. Lucy-Anne’s adventures in the strange wildness of Hampstead Heath reminded me of some of China Miéville’s stories. Nomad incorrectly connects Lucy-Anne with the coming nuclear detonation, and targets her, which adds to the danger.
Reaper’s Legacy is a suspenseful, fast-paced read. At the end of the book, Lebbon has upped the ante, because there really is an armed nuclear device hidden in London. Jack and Lucy-Anne need to find it. Meanwhile, other “outsiders” who slipped into London, like Jack’s family, are charged with getting the truth to the rest of the world.
I will have to find London Eye in order to understand all the nuance of Reaper’s Legacy, but I enjoyed this book and .am eager to see what happens next.