Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mortal Engines


Reeve, Philip. 2003. Mortal Engines. HarperCollins. 310 pages.

It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea. In happier times, London would never have bothered with such feeble prey. The great Traction City had once spent its days hunting far bigger towns than this, ranging north as far as the edge of the Ice Wastes and south to the shores of the Mediterranean. But lately prey of any kind had started to grow scarce, and some of the larger cities had begun to look hungrily at London. For ten years now it had been hiding from them, skulking in a damp, mountainous western district that the Guild of Historians said had once been the island of Britain. For ten years it had eaten nothing but tiny farming towns and static settlements in those wet hills. Now, at last, the Lord Mayor had decided that the time was right to take his city back over the land bridge into the Great Hunting Ground.

I don't know about you, but this one had me hooked from the beginning. In this fun science fiction series, it's a town-eat-town world ruled by municipal Darwinism. London is a city on the go, on the move. And for better or worse, Tom is along for the ride.

Tom Natsworthy is an apprentice. True, he's just a third apprentice...and an orphan at that. But he's as content as a boy can be under the circumstances. But when Tom witnesses something he shouldn't--no matter that he'd just saved Mr. Valentine's life--his new life of danger and adventure is off to a brutal start. Tom's new companion--the young girl who got him into this mess of an adventure is Hester Shaw, a flawed and scarred character if ever there was one. But this encounter leaves an unintended impression on another teenager as well...a Miss Katherine Valentine.

All three teens will in one way or another impact the world, save it even. I won't go into all the ins and outs of the plots--the different factions the world is broken into, the danger that Medusa poses to the world, the need for a hero or two to risk it all.

The world Reeve has created is an interesting one. One that you may enjoy reading about--I know I did--but that you'd never want to live in yourself. It's a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure with danger and mystery and the slightest smidgen of romance.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

9 comments:

Jane Hyde 6:10 PM  

Oh, Becky, this is one of my absolute favorites of recent years. Both my 12 year old grandson and I love this quartet. It's even better than Oppel's Airborn -- well, maybe -- and along with the shorter but very subtle City of Ember one of the most original and inventive science fiction novels of the last decade. Thank you for featuring it! May it have a long and happy life!

Staci 8:27 PM  

I usually don't care for Sci-Fi but seeing how this trilogy is on my bookshelves at school I feel the need to read them. Great review Becky!

biblauragraphy 10:42 PM  

I absolutely LOVED this book when it first came out, and for some crazy reason I have never read the rest of the series. You've inspired me - I'm bringing them home from the library tonight.

Michelle 4:10 AM  

I really really loved this book. Didn't much care for the rest of the series, but this book I couldn't put down.

Anonymous,  6:07 AM  

What a lovely review, Becky! I was interested in the book before, but now I really want to read it! L.

J. Kaye 8:48 AM  

I don't think Nona would enjoy this, but I bet Jimmy would. I'll see if I can locate a copy and ask him.

Peta 6:54 AM  

I read this series late 2007 and must confess that I bought them solely because initially I was attracted to the cover and when I read that first sentence I was hooked. Like Michelle, my enthusiasm for the series reduced over the books but I have some really vivid mental images from them and the idea of roaming cities is a very intriguing one.

Walker 9:22 PM  

Im trying to review books my self, and I googled reviews for the book on wich i decided to use as my first book. I have to say, this is, diffrent, and i have to say i like it, alot. I shall stick around, maby even subscribe to you, your reviews are pretty good.

Chewinggum 6:58 AM  

Yo Becky! Oh wow... your book reviews are soooo good! o.o I love MORTAL ENGINES! I have a book blog myself and I feel... so small after reading yours... Oh man... wish I could improve on it... Any tips?

TO WALKER: Read ur blog, followed it, wanted to post a comment,can't ... so just writing here (if u don't mind Becky):) Ur blog is pretty good... Just keep blogging!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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