I picked up Storm Thief at the library on a hunch - the cover. The artist should be given a hefty raise. It screams 'intrigue and mystery'.
Rail and Moa are teenage thieves for Anya-Jacana, a thief mistress in the land of Orokos. This country is unique in that it is built on a massive plane of rock - in the middle of an ocean. Years ago, the builders of the city set up machines in the water to shred any outgoing escapee boats. Probability storms - storms in which children can turn to glass, eye color can change, and streets can be rearranged - ravage the city, creating a constantly changing environment. During one of these storms, Rail's lungs stopped working. Anya-Jacana saved him by giving him a respirator. (see picture)
Their story begins during a theft Anya-Jacana told Rail and Moa to commit. While eluding half-human creatures called Mosgaz, Rail finds an artifact like a ring from the time of the Fade, hundreds of years ago when human technology was at its peak and bogglingly complex. He hides the artifact from the thief mistress. Knowing Rail was not giving her the whole spoil, she sends another thief to collect the artifact. Rail escapes when Moa puts on the artifact and discovers its power: it opens temporary holes in walls, floors, and anything else.
As they flee Anya-Jacana, they encounter a golem, a half-human, half-mechanical creature that someone made.
After enduring a series of trials, Rail, Moa, and the golem reach an underground city at the edge of Orokos. Moa's acquaintance in charge of the community, Kittiwake, tells them of a plan to evade the skimmers (machines that shred boats). The odds are not with them, but at least one-third of them would be able to escape. Rail does not want Moa to risk suicide. Moa does not want to stay in Orokos any longer.
Then the golem disappears, and Rail and Moa discover he was made by the Protectorate, the only ruling party of Orokos.
Overall, Storm Thief is a top pick. Rail and Moa are rich characters, and although it's clear they are close to each other, there is little emphasis on romance. Wooding's writing is rich. In the case of his spatial descriptions, sometimes a little too rich. A few times, when he was describing buildings or cities, I'd have to close my eyes and squint to picture the place correctly. Besides that and a few slow parts, Storm Thief is one of those books you wish you could sneak into class to finish reading.
Don't make any assumptions about that last sentence. I would never sneak a book into class.