City of Rust

City of Rust

By Author / Illustrator

Gemma Fowler



Age range(s)



Chicken House Ltd




Paperback / softback




An out-of-this-world sci-fi adventure! Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth. Rescued by a couple of Junker kids, they discover a danger bigger than anything they'd imagined - but can three kids, a gecko and an ancient computer save the world against the huge trash bomb (and its power-crazed creator) threatening to destroy the world?

The fun, original and thrilling middle-grade debut from Gemma Fowler - an ecologically-themed mystery adventure! Perfect for fans of Star Wars and Wall-E - sci-fi for a new generation! Railey and Atti are a brilliantly acerbic and loving duo: their story is packed full of fun and adrenaline.



This book is a must read for sci-fi fans, perfect for anybody who loves star wars, The Danger Gang or other out of this world adventures.

Railey and her robotic gecko dream of winning the drone races however her dreams become halted when their most important race is crashed and they end up running away. They discover that they are in grave danger as a huge trash bomb is threatening to destroy the Earth and embark on a journey to save it.

I was captivated by the thrill of adventure in this book, I was on the edge on my seat reading through the chapters. I grew to adore the character Railey, a smart and tough girl who was ready to take it all on!

Children aged 8+ will be captivated by the fun and adventure between two friends.

In the classroom

Gemma Fowler has provided opportunities for classroom discussion about protecting our planet and friendship. The idea of 'space junk' is a great curriculum link for year groups who are studying Space or the environment.

The book lends itself to some really great descriptive writing opportunities such as alternative worlds, alternate outcomes to situations that arise in the story and character description work. There is also lots of great dialogue throughout the book between characters that could be unpicked to show the contrast between friend and foe as well as vocabulary choices to infer a characters emotions.

A great read I would recommend to children in my own class.

352 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Lisa Watkins, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


Railey lives in Boxville, a city built of containers and scraps, with her gran and Atti, her bio-robotic gecko. A talented engineer, she dreams of winning the biggest drone race on Earth. But the race is interrupted, she is forced to flee and take refuge with the Junkers; tough, fierce clans who mine the Soup, a ring of rubbish speeding around the Earth. Befriended by Laurie and Care, two young Junkers, Railey learns that the world she knows might be destroyed by a huge Junk Bomb and realises that she and Atti must use all their flying skills to save it.

An excellent read, 'City of Rust' is an action-packed romp of an adventure. From the first page, the reader is drawn into Railey's world and quickly absorbed in the action. Gemma Fowler's has created a dystopian vision of the future, perfect for lovers of science fiction, in which the world's waste is out of control. Her world is brilliantly conceived ... Glass City, whose powerful families created the Soup by pushing their rubbish out into space; Boxville, a city made from the scraps; the Junk Market, a place heaving with Junkers and scrap.

Set against this backdrop is fantastic cast of characters. Railey and Atti are a wonderful pair, bickering like siblings and sharing a deep, mutual affection and loyalty. Care is my favourite - feisty, mouthy and fearless, she is also vulnerable and fiercely protective of those she cares about. Her 'wonky brain' causes her to become frustrated as it stops her from expressing herself as she would like to.

The book would make an excellent text for using with a class - as a class novel to inspire work, as a guided reading text or as a class story. The story's strong ecological theme, the world building and strong characterisation make it a gift for any teacher looking for a compelling, engaging, edge of the seat adventure.

352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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