Tim Lebbon’s Toxic City series continues with the second installment, Reaper’s Legacy. After reading London Eye, the first book in the series, I was intrigued to follow the character’s adventures. With a gritty backdrop of post-apocalyptic London,Reaper’s Legacy takes off right were the story left off with Lebbon’s upbeat pace.
Heroes and monsters clash with government forces in an apocalyptic London. Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers), while those in the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different. The handful of survivors in London are developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving. Meanwhile, the Choppers treat the ruined city as their own experimental playground. Jack’s own developing powers are startling and frightening, though he is determined to save his father, the brutal man with a horrific power who calls himself Reaper. Jack must also find their friend Lucy-Anne, who went north to find her brother. What Lucy-Anne discovers is terrifying-people evolving into monstrous things and the knowledge that a nuclear bomb has been set to destroy what’s left of London. And the clock is ticking.
I had high hopes for this book and was somewhat disappointed. Lebbon suffered from the typical sophomore slump. With no set-up for newcomers to the series, Lebbon dissolves any chance for Reaper’s Legacy to be a good standalone novel. While many authors do this, it forces the reader to remember every detail from the last book or barrel blindly forward. Many of the expectations one would have of a continuation story were not in Reaper’s Legacy. For instance, I had anticipated some character growth as the protagonist developed supernatural powers. This was not the case. In fact each of the characters seemed to revert back to their starting personalities rather than continue the progress they had made in London Eye,. I found this to be somewhat dismaying as I was truly looking forward to the character progression.
While I had many minor issues with Reaper’s Legacy, I couldn’t overlook Lebbon’s odd choice of pacing. As a fan of fast paced books, I found it odd to blur past scenes with crucial plot points- which were oftentimes summarized in a small paragraphs- and then draw out things as mundane as breathing. The pacing is so off that the entire installment feels as if it’s hurtling toward a predictable end, and was indeed predictable. I can forgive an unimaginative storyline if there are unique twists, such as in London Eye,. However, this uniqueness was lost entirely.
There are many things I can say about Reaper’s Legacy but perhaps the most accurate was that it was underwhelming. At best, this installment is vaguely entertaining and at worst,Reaper’s Legacy was the ruin of a good series. Either way, I feel invested in the plot that was established in London Eye enough to want to know the conclusion to the adventure despite my disappointment. Reaper’s Legacy may in fact be the one book which is toxic to this otherwise entertaining series.