*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
This is my first listen to Saskia. She has a lovely voice that's easy to listen to. I didn't found there was some difference in tone or sound to help differentiate the characters, but nothing major. However, the book was still rather easy to follow who was talking. Saskia does sound older for Charles and a scratchy sound for men. She did well with slight differences. I did find the story felt to be moving slow, so I did speed up to 1.25x the speed as opposed to my normal 1.00x speed. I wanted to move along with all that's to happen, I was a little anxious to get going. I was back and forth on the speed.
This is very much a young reader style story. Not just because our main character is 15 going on 16 but in the reading of the story. It's easy to follow as Jacob grows from a teen into a young man, as the city sees kids this age but also in his own thinking and doing.
The world is different. It's a feel of post apocalyptic with steam and clockworks powering things. We also see large insects. Some are friendly and like pets or horses to ride. Other bugs are strong and attack the city, where the walls have grown weak. This shows the division in people in the village/city areas. There are lowborn and highborn sections of the city, a very fantasy feel to the city.
The people in this book are kind to each other, with a few slurs or feelings for the lowborn shown. But all are suffering when the village is attacked by the huge insects and they have to work together. This is something our world needs to see more of. The kind hearts of adults and children willing to eagerly help each other, not expecting payment in return. This warmed my heart to hear! That's not to say there aren't people that look down on others, but there is a focus on kindness.
The story is told from Jacob's POV. We see the city and people as he sees them. There is some bad out there, but the author has chosen to focus on the good. Thank you. There is to much bad out there that many see, so to have a story highlighting the good in people is a pleasure to read. And, even though the world is rough with the giant bugs attacking, it seems like a world I'd like to visit.
The only downfall in the story for me was I didn't feel Jacob, our main character, had a drive or want for something. Not even a major conflict in his character and world. He's a boy living to get by. Sure, he's poor and life is hard, but it doesn't feel as he has a real want, something to drive to get or fight against. He does come across events that give him points to work toward - his father being sick which is a desire for his father to get well, the bugs attacking his part of town and wanting his family and friends safe, then what he learns in the catacombs. But nothing overall for him other than curiosity of a brilliant kid getting him into trouble.
The world is attention attracting. And at the end of this book, I'm curious to where the story goes with what we are learning. I'll be carrying on with the books to see where our characters end up.