Thursday, January 22, 2009
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