Review: Scavenger 1 – Zoid / Author: Paul Stewart / Artist: Chris Riddell / Publisher: Macmillan / Release Date: Out Now
Good sci-fi books aimed at the young need to be far more common. In a genre filled with franchise-based products, there’s a danger that those who still have some growing taller to do will miss the amazing diversity and strangeness that makes up the bulk of sci-fi in favour of lightsabers, Klingons and Space Marines.
Scavenger 1: Zoid is a great bit of sci-fi fun that neatly sidesteps the familiar tropes in favour of some classic ideas. It is the tale of York, a 14-year-old boy who lives on an ancient colony ship. Long ago the robots on board rebelled and turned into violent machines called zoids, which then proceeded to hunt down most of the humans and kill them. When the rest of York’s village is kidnapped (rather than murdered) by the machines, he finds himself on a quest to rescue the only people he knows and also discovers more of the secrets of his home.
Paul Stewart tells an engrossing and enjoyable tale, and it’s a heady mix of some classic sci-fi ideas. A little bit of Silent Running here, a touch of Logan’s Run there, all wrapped up in a bundle of ideas reminiscent of Starlost or even Brian Aldiss’s Non-Stop. All of this is written in a straightforward style that less experienced readers will want to read again and again. York is a relatable and sympathetic character and the world he lives in is a nice mix of mystery and adventure.
Chris Riddell’s art is as gorgeous as always. His busy and highly detailed style has always been memorable and atmospheric. With this particular subject matter he really comes into his own. A skilled world builder, Riddell’s art tells the tale as lyrically and as intelligently as Stewart’s words, and the two make for a dynamite team. The world of Scavenger 1: Zoid also contains some fantastic creatures which again reference all sorts of classic sci-fi without really being too obvious about it. This is the first of the series and we can only hope there is more to come. Don’t let the neon green cover put you off, this is perfect for the budding sci-fi fan in your life.