The Hunger Games meets the X-Men in an exciting postapocalyptic debut.
Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.
But Jack and his friendssome of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsdayknow that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London-and it is incredible. Because the handful of London's survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.
Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends ... and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.
About the Author
Tim Lebbon is a New York Times-bestselling writer from South Wales. He has had over twenty novels, dozens of novellas, and hundreds of short stories published to date. Recent books include London Eye (Toxic City Book One), and The Map of Moments (coauthored with Christopher Golden). He has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, and a Scribe Award, and has been a finalist for International Horror Guild, Shirley Jackson, and World Fantasy Awards. Fox 2000 recently acquired film rights to his book series The Secret Journeys of Jack London, and Tim and Christopher Golden have delivered the screenplay. Visit Tim online at www.timlebbon.net and on Twitter @timlebbon.
Read an Excerpt
TOXIC CITY BOOK ONE
By TIM LEBBON
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2012Tim Lebbon
All rights reserved.
There has been an explosion at the London Eye. Two fatalities are reported, though details are still sketchy. Scotland Yard has issued a brief statement: "There is no indication that this was a terrorist attack." More soon.
—BBC News Website, 4:34 p.m. GMT, July 28, 2019
Even though their movements describe a strange, hypnotic beauty, she is certain that the rooks are going to kill her.
She is in the middle of a deserted street. It was silent before, empty, a place she had to herself, though she had been terrified of the silence. Then the peace was broken by the descent of the rooks, and now she is terrified still. She runs for the houses to her right, but though their gates stand open and the front gardens are overgrown and untended, the front doors are all locked tight.
She looks back and up, and the rooks are falling closer. Are they toying with her? Teasing? She cannot say. They circle her in a fast, tight spiral, and she feels as though she is looking into the heart of a black tornado.
Screaming, her voice is lost to the birds, so she decides to run again. Across the street, hands over her ears to block out the rookish cacophony, she stumbles into a burnt-out car, scratching her leg through her jeans. She staggers and falls, feeling tears run from her eyes ... but she will not show her weakness.
The first of the birds touches her, a gentle stroke of soft feathers across her cheek. She waves her arms but feels nothing. More come down, crowding around her now, claws snagging in her hair, wings beating against her face.
She stands, and this time her scream of rage is heard. This is not the way for me to go! She snatches a bird from the air and throws, causing a ripple in the wall of black around her.
Through that ripple, a shadow appears. Its movement is nothing like that of a bird. And then she sees it smile.
Lucy-Anne started awake, scanning her surroundings for birds that were not there, and realised she was in Camp Truth. That afternoon when everything was about to change, Jack was there with her.
She sighed and leaned against Jack. He was seventeen but looked three years older. The loss of his parents in London two years before had aged him, and though he wasn't the sort she usually fell for, their grief had brought them close. He had his eyes closed now, but she could see that he was not asleep. When he slept, his worry lines almost vanished.
Camp Truth always comforted her. It was home to photographs, reports, press clippings, testimonies, and artefacts that revealed a thousand lies about the dreadful fate that had befallen London and which could, if successfully exposed, make so many things right. That was why this was the most important place in Lucy-Anne's world. And she never failed to see the painful irony in Camp Truth existing underground.
When they'd been setting it up, the four of them—her, Jack, Sparky and Jenna—had debated whether to try and keep things hidden away, even down here. The decision had been unanimous: if Camp Truth were found, they were all finished, so why not revel in what they were doing? And so there hung a huge mosaic map of London as it once was across one wall, and stuck all over it were dozens of small clear envelopes. Sparky had made a pinboard for the second wall, and here they had pinned random photographs, cuttings and other ephemera they had gathered over the past couple of years, but which they could not place accurately. Most images were blurred, some damaged by the fires intended to destroy them. A few had been hacked from weapon-cameras just before the people in them were blasted to smithereens.
Lucy-Anne yawned, scratching at her scalp. "Sparky and Jenna coming later?" she asked.
"Don't think so," Jack replied, opening his eyes. "Jenna's out with her parents, and Sparky's still working on the car."
Lucy-Anne laughed without humour. "It's almost forty years old, rusting and dead. Why bother?"
"You know why," Jack said softly.
Lucy-Anne laughed again but said no more, and that was her way of admitting that, yes, she did know why. Sparky liked working with the impossible in the hope that it could change things. If that old Ford Capri ever started again and took to the road, perhaps it would mean that, against all odds, his brother was still alive somewhere in London's sad ruin.
"What is it?" Lucy-Anne asked.
"Mum and Dad's wedding anniversary tomorrow."
"Oh, hell, I should have remembered." She sat up straight, flushing with dismay at her bad memory, and Jack smiled and shook his head. But his smile turned sad.
"They'd always wanted a weekend in London on their own," he said, and even though Lucy-Anne had heard this a dozen times, she would always listen again. "They were just ..." He trailed off, and she pulled him into her embrace and hugged him tight.
They'd been together for almost two years. She would always remember the first time they met; she'd been a fifteen-year-old standing on a chair and offering the world out for a fight. They'd gone to the same counselling sessions for orphans of Doomsday—as the destruction of London had become known—and Lucy-Anne had taken it as a chance to rage against the authorities that put them there. Bloody lying bastards! were the first words Jack had heard from her mouth. Her hair had been green then, shaved to a half-inch buzz, and the leathers she wore that day were new, creaking, and obviously stolen.
The others in the group had retreated in fear, cried, or simply turned away, and it had taken the three counsellors half an hour to talk her down. She had sat there for the rest of that session, simmering, and swapping cautious glances with this new orphan.
"We should go," Jack said. "Be dark soon."
"It's always dark," Lucy-Anne said, shivering. And in Camp Truth that was true.
Jack led the way up out of the basement. Lucy-Anne followed, and he wondered once again what had become of them. They'd been down in the basement for almost three hours, and there'd been little more than a quick kiss, and then her haunted sleep. A year ago they'd have spent their time doing a lot more. But things had changed between them, and he still tried to persuade himself that it was because they'd moved on from being teenaged lovers to the best of friends.
She was almost seventeen, but sometimes her grief made her look ageless: she'd lost her parents and brother in London. Her current hairstyle was purple spiked, formed into a carefully sculptured I-don't-give-a-damn mess, and her dark jeans and white tee shirt were tattered and ripped. Those rips weren't designer, Jack knew. Lucy-Anne had been left with her family's house, but very little else.
"Sun's going down," he said. He stepped through the curtain of clematis they'd trained across the staircase entrance, and the red splash of dusk exploded across his skin.
Lucy-Anne looked cautiously up into the trees, as if expecting to see a cloud of birds descending towards them from any direction. But the trees were silent, and they were alone. "Red sky at night ..." she began, and Jack went to her side and put his arm around her waist.
"Shall we check the drops on the way back?"
"Yeah!" She perked up, hugging him with both arms and giving him a kiss. He pinched her bum, she gave him a playful slap, and he welcomed the familiar relief at leaving their secret place.
They walked back through the forest towards their village of Tall Stennington, and on the way they checked the places where truth came to find them.
Excerpted from LONDON EYE by TIM LEBBON. Copyright © 2012 by Tim Lebbon. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First of a series, this teen SF novel is set in the very near future. A couple of years previously, the city of London was suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world. The public reason was because of a coordinated series of terrorist attacks. Since then, no one enters or leaves London. A military force called Choppers patrols the streets looking for survivors for "experiments" (think Nazi Germany). Jack and his sister, Emily (their parents were in London at the time), and a couple of friends undertake a harrowing, mostly underground, journey into London. They have help from Rosemary, who has come out of London, specifically to be their guide. She is a healer, with some "unique" abilities. Rosemary's reason is because is because Jack and Emily's mother is also a healer, with "unique" abilities of her own. Dad's abilities are a lot more destructive; he has become a leader of the "bad guys." Maybe Jack and Emily can change his mind. During the journey into London, the group battles a pack of wild dogs in an underground tunnel; everyone survives. The rest of the world was told that London has become a toxic wasteland. It's deserted, with large parts of the city in ruins, but it's not toxic. The group walks over a hastily filled-in mass grave, with bones sticking out. Jack and Emily have a happy reunion with their mother; the reunion with their father is not so happy. Jack tries his best to convince Dad to join them and fight their way out of London. Does it work? Are Jack, Emily and their friends now trapped in London? This is a very good and very dystopian tale. I guess that I liked the society-building a little bit more than the actual story. I am sure that teens will like the whole novel. Yes, it's worth reading.
The Hunger Games meets X-Men? Some crazy attack on London that has left the city absolutely devastated and isolated from the rest of the world? People with superhuman powers and abilities? This is EXACTLY the kind of premise I love to hear about. Plenty of action and excitement should be an unstoppable book. But unfortunately, London Eye simply failed to deliver those anticipations of mine. I had a difficult time really connecting with the book, and if I can’t do that then I’m bound to dislike it. Reasons to Read: 1. There is PLENTY of action: This was awesome – I liked that danger really was lurking around every corner and that the further the story moved along, the more likely it was that more danger would take place as the group drew closer to London. It’s a messy and crazy world, and the action at least kept the story moving along for me. 2. Diversity with characters: These definitely aren’t your cookie-cutter YA characters, and I applaud Tim Lebbon for being creative with his characters and making them real and flawed. They were edgier than I expected, and far more honest than most. Plus, I like seeing more male perspectives in YA. And I thought it was brilliant to include Emily as Jack’s younger sister, and giving them a very strong sibling relationship with each other. Regardless, the story ultimate felt lacking to me. As diverse as the characters were, I couldn’t stand most of them. I had the hardest time relating to Jack and just didn’t find the redeeming characters I was looking for from him. And Lucy-Ann was another character I didn’t take to – I wonder if perhaps it’s because I didn’t buy into her relationship with Jack. We’re introduced to them at a time when they’re both having a hard time with their relationship but because they were so new to me, I couldn’t fully appreciate how difficult this struggle was for them. I couldn’t fathom why these kids were so trusting with strangers, considering they had been on their own for so long. But mostly, I felt like I was thrown into a world with characters I didn’t know anything about. I wanted to like them, I wanted to know more about what was going on in this time and place, but I didn’t get that. It felt glossed over and rushed, and without strong world building and character development I just couldn’t connect with the story at all. Review copy received from publisher for review; no other compensation was received.
The first book in Tim Lebbon's Toxic City series is no doubt an eye-opener! His style and the simple genius of the story's plot will readily hook readers. London Eye is so much more than the telling of how Jack and his friends survive in a drastically changed city. Lebbon quickly instills mystery, terror, and just a smidgen of hope that will cause readers to eagerly read the story through. London is the victim of a terrorist attack that caused the city to shut down and close off to anyone already outside. Most of the people died instantly, but the ones who survived awakened changed. Jack's mother is one of those evolving survivors, so when he and his little sister learn that she's still alive they find their way inside the supposedly toxic city with their friends: Lucy-Anne, Sparky, and Jenna. Jack and Lucy-Anne are portrayed as the central characters as the story flits between their third person perspectives. Everyone in the group has a dark background, a sad story to tell because of the damage done in London, but Jack and Lucy-Anne somehow have greater ties to the city. Jack is the level-headed type and Lucy-Anne is more impulsive, angry, and just a touch crazy, so it's interesting to see their different takes on what's happening to them. The light connection between them was short-lived, but added a little fuel to the group's dynamic. The group of friends steal into the city hoping to find the truth about what's really going on and answers to the fate of their lost family members. What they find is a desolate land 'protected' by Choppers and inhabited by many strange, yet powerful, characters. Choppers roam the streets looking for survivors to brutally experiment on, while the Irregulars and the Superiors hide or fight back. The way Lebbon relates London's destruction and aftermath is chilling, but so believable. It's not even hard to imagine when the survivors demonstrate their terrifying or useful new powers. Lebbon's writing is subtle in it's intensity, and will leave you feeling awed and excited for the sequel, Reaper's Legacy. *Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Left me wanting more and had my attention the whole time
I love London and I learned some things from this book. Left me wanting more.
I got attracted to this book because i love visiting London and hanging out with my freinds- Gemma -whos brother is- HS -and he and his freinds- NJ LP ZM LT-took us to the London Eye and in a helicopter around Big Ben. It was so much fun and i miss them. I also love them.