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Reviewed by K M Steele for Readers' Favorite
Songbird by Robin Ive is a dystopian tale about a girl with a beautiful voice, a virgin birth and the imminent destruction of civilization by an evil force. The narrative opens in Brighton, a city beset by looting and corruption, after years of attacks by an alien species called Orbs. Nobody knows where the Orbs came from, or what they want, but they are deadly to humans. Victims of an Orb attack turn ‘feral’, exhibiting mindless aggression that ends in violent suicide. Micky lives above an abandoned antiques store in Brighton, and tries to keep out of trouble while she sings for her supper, and a supply of a black market drug that is the only known defence against the Orbs. When Micky ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, she is sentenced to twelve months on the Southern Voyager, a prison ship moored on the Thames. She escapes, but finds herself in greater danger when she is captured by Petra Cromwell, a scientist prepared to stop at nothing to find a cure for the side effects of the Orbs. However, forces greater than Petra are at work, and Micky survives to fight the biggest battle of her life.
Songbird is fast-paced and enjoyable. The settings are vividly described without being self-indulgent, which means the reader can easily visualise the destroyed city and surrounding countryside. All of the characters, with the exception of a couple of obvious caricatures, are well-rounded with believable back stories. The gentle romance between Micky and Jarreth is believable, and there are good and bad characters, and plenty that fall in the middle, which adds another layer of authenticity to the characterization. The weaving of folklore and historical detail into a futuristic narrative adds an interesting dimension to the novel, and grounds the narrative in the real world. Overall, Robin Ive’s Songbird is an enjoyable and easy-to-read tale of loss and redemption and the power of good over evil.