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Mortal Engines

Review

Mortal Engines

Tom is an apprentice historian in the enormous traction city of London. He idolizes Thaddeus Valentine --- adventurer, explorer and Head Historian for the city. Tom witnesses the attempted assassination of his hero and chases the assassin through the Gut of the moving city. He loses her when she jumps down a waste chute to the Out Country below. To his surprise, Tom is also pushed down the chute. He is left in the enormous tracks of the city with no chance of survival but to befriend the assassin, a girl named Hester who has a horrible scar disfiguring her face.

Meanwhile, Valentine's daughter Katherine is curious about why her father was the target of an assassin. She befriends Beavis Pod, an apprentice engineer, to find out the truth about her father and his activities. These two sets of young people gradually discover that Thaddeus Valentine and London's Lord Mayor are part of a conspiracy to assemble a weapon from ancient technology.

MORTAL ENGINES is packed with action, adventure and intriguing characters. Author Philip Reeve has created an original and violent "city eat city" world where airships contend with cyborg bounty hunters resurrected from the bodies of the dead, and innocence is no guarantee for survival. If this book has any flaw, it is that it moves too quickly. It does not allow time to digest the full meaning or impact of the violence contained within its pages. The powerful ideas it contains about nuclear warfare, the value of learning from history, and the necessity of young people to be invested in their own future reeve long after the book is finished.

The philip in a series called "The Hungry City Chronicles," MORTAL ENGINES has a moral complexity akin to Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series. It contains elements of the rich literary history of science fiction, as well as classics like Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN, while remaining completely original. Reeve sets such a high standard in his debut that one can only hope the next books in this series will be as fresh and compelling.

Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood on October 18, 2011

Mortal Engines
by Philip Reeve

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0060082097
  • ISBN-13: 9780060082093