Book Review: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Image Description: the book-cover is a mostly grey-scale cover with small patches of colour. The foreground focuses on the large traction-city of London (imagine an enormous tank-tread base with a verticle tiered-city built on top of the rolling tank-tread base) approaching the figure in the foreground. The figure in the foreground is Hester Shaw, with her back to the viewer, wearing mostly black and a red scarf flying in the wind.

Title: Mortal Engines (Book #1 in the Mortal Engines Quartet)
Creator: Philip Reeve
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Scholastic
Format and Price: Paperback as part of a Box Set (It Was A Gift)
Stars: 5 stars out of 5

About The Creator:
Philip Reeve was born and raised in Brighton, where he worked in a bookshop for a number of years while also co-writing, producing and directing a number of no-budget theatre projects. Philip then began illustrating and has since provided cartoons for around forty children’s books, including the best-selling Horrible Histories, Murderous Maths and Dead Famous series. Railhead, published by Oxford University Press, will be published in the UK in October 2015. Pugs of the Frozen North, written with Sarah McIntyre, is out now.

About The Book:
London is a city on wheels – a future city like you’ve never known before. In the terrible aftermath of the Sixty Minute War, cities which survived the apocalypse became predators, chasing and feeding on smaller towns. Now London is hunting down its prey, getting ready to feed. But as the chase begins, Tom uncovers a secret – a secret full of deadly consequences. Soon he is plunged into a world of unkillable enemies, threatened by a weapon that will tear his life apart…

General Observations:
~Excellent World Building: I loved the detail that Phillip Reeve went into when writing this series. As Tom Natsworthy has never been outside of the traction-city of London and is rather naive, it’s an excellent way of showing the reader how this world works and functions, or rather doesn’t function.

~Anyone Can Die: This is a novel set in a Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic Future, where large chunks of the known world have been either destroyed or have gone missing in the Sixty Minute War, a result of this is that resources are scarce and worth killing and/or dying over.

Over the course of the first book, a lot of people die, so while this novel series is aimed at a Young Adult audience, due to the content explored in the novel, I wouldn’t recommend this series for readers who are under the age of fourteen.

~Sliding Scale of Plot versus Character: The novel has a good balance of plot and character elements mixed together. With regards to plot, there are three separate plot lines running throughout the book: the adventures of Tom and Hester Shaw, Kate Valentine and Bevis Pod’s investigation as to what is going on with the Guild of Engineers, and then the random chapters from Shrike and Thaddeus Valentine’s points of view.

We also get to learn about Tom’s backstory, Hester Shaw’s backstory with Shrike, and some of Anna Fang’s backstory. Although, the character backstories also get expanded further upon in later books, so it’s not one great big info dump about the characters as they’re introduced. The momentum does slow down when a prominent character dies, however, it does pick back up for the grand finale.

Character-wise, Tom and Hester Shaw do and say things that are realistic for their age. They don’t act like small adults trapped in the bodies of fourteen-year-olds. They get sad, they act out, and they also have to confront things that disrupt their preconceived notions of the world.

Tom Natsworthy has to deal with the fact that Traction Cities are flawed and are possibly doing more harm than good. Hester Shaw has to process a lot of traumatic events that have happened to her and learn to accept that kindness is real and it’s possible to trust people.

~Favourite Characters: While I do like Tom and Hester Shaw as main characters, I must confess that Anna Fang and Shrike are my favourite characters of the series, I don’t know why, but there’s something appealing about reading chapters from Shrike’s point of view.

All in all, an interesting dystopian adventure with an active plot, excellent world-building, and a wide variety of characters. Happy to recommend, however, I recommend parents do some research about this series first before assuming it’s suitable for younger audiences.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

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