Book Review: London Eye by Tim Lebbon

London EyeLondon Eye
Toxic City, Book One
Tim Lebbon
Pyr/ Prometheus Books, October 2012
ISBN 9781616146801

The date is the 28th of July, 2019. London has just been attacked by a series of explosions, firstly at the London Eye attraction. Hospitals are on alert, the UK threat level is critical and the city is in lock down. No one can get in or out. Thousands are dead, the survivors are shadows of their former selves. Two years later, a small group of teenagers follow a strange woman into the exclusion zone in a desperate attempt to find their families. Danger awaits them at every turn but the truth is worth the risk. Family is worth dying for, right?

London Eye is a well written book, the first presumably in a series called Toxic City. In this volume, a small group of teenagers travel into the exclusion zone that has been set up surrounding London after a biological attack that has decimated the population in the city. Desperate to find news of their family members the group makes a perilous journey into the depths of London, now resembling a savage wilderness overrun with wild dogs and leftover zoo animals. Government agents transect the city picking up survivors and taking them away for experimentation since the survivors seem to have new-found powers that the government is keen to explore. This is a dystopian novel, full of interesting characters and plots that would be appealing to young adults. In a way, it definitely reminded me of I Am Legend only without the crazy zombie-like danger. For me, I enjoyed reading about familiar areas and streets in London being portrayed in a post-apocalyptic state. Being familiar with the city only helped spur my interest in this book.

The characters are well developed with relationships that are both believable and well formed. I think that they are characters that younger readers will empathise with and relate well to.  There is evidence of the usual tentativeness of burgeoning relationships, strong bonds between both friends and siblings and the awkwardness that comes when relationships change is covered in an accurate and sensitive way. One character comes to realize that his relationship really only came together through necessity rather than an actual attraction and this maturity adds an overall sense of authenticity to the book.

Ultimately, I enjoyed reading London Eye. Being a regular visitor to the city of London, it was both exciting and scary seeing it portrayed in such a devastating way. The ending was left open, obviously to signal that another book will be forthcoming. I would definitely be interested in reading the next installment of the Toxic City series and in the meantime would recommend it to others.

A great read for anyone interested in dystopian fiction.

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, December 2012.