Book Review: Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve

Image Description: the book-cover of Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve

Title: Predator’s Gold (Book #2 in the Mortal Engines Quartet)
Creator: Philip Reeve
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Scholastic
Format and Price: Paperback as part of a Gifted Box Set
Stars: 3 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:
In this breathtaking sequel to his award-winning Mortal Engines, Reeve plunges readers into a ruthless and terrifyingly believable world where cities eat each other, betrayal is as common as ice, and loyalty offers the only chance for survival.

When Tom and Hester’s scrapyard aircraft is pursued by rocket-firing gunships, they seek sanctuary in the speeding ice city of Anchorage. But it is no safe refuge. Devastated by plague and haunted by ghosts, Anchorage is heading for the Dead Continent…

Yarr! Thar Be Spoilers Ahead. Ye Have Been Warned.

Aspects of The Novel I Did Like:
~World Building: Philip Reeve is very good at world-building. This novel is set more towards the arctic/Scandinavian regions of the post-apocalyptic regions of what used to be Eastern Europe (I think). I particularly liked the ice city of Anchorage.

The setting was extra spooky with the lack thereof people. This was due to the fact that a plague had wiped out a large portion of the population of Anchorage. I felt that the population decimation had pretty realistic consequences for the survivors.

~Sliding Scale of Character versus Plot: While the previous book in the series was more plot-orientated than character orientated, this novel was more character-orientated, and it gave Philip Reeve an opportunity to flesh out characters like Hester and Tom, but also Freya and Beavis. I have a feeling Freya and Beavis are going to be important in the next book.

There’s also the feeling that this novel is also more of a set-up novel and that it’s more invested in setting up events of the next novel (such as “this moment will have more significance later on” type of deal). This has resulted in the narrative pacing dragging in certain places of the novel.

~Character Focus – Freya and Beavis: As mentioned previously, I think Freya and Beavis are going to be important later on and I liked how Philip Reeves explored their different personalities and backgrounds. Freya comes from a long linage of Anchorage Royalty, as a result of this, Freya has lived a very privileged and sheltered life.

In contrast to this is Beavis, who is an unknown orphan, stolen from an unknown traction city, and trained to steal things and remain unseen. This has resulted in very different outlooks on life and very different choices, however, despite the fact that they’ve both experienced hardship, both of them are still empathic and kind towards other people.

It was a nice touch in an otherwise grim novel.

Aspects of The Novel I Did Not Like:
~There Are No Therapists: I’d go so far as to say almost 95% of the conflicts and problems raised in this novel could have been solved or prevented if there had been a Reasonable Authority Figure or a Therapist present. The head-engineer of Anchorage is one the few reasonable adults in the series but is constrained by class structure and tradition, the same way Freya is also constrained by her class/role and traditions.

~Good Scars, Evil Scars: Hester’s face was sliced in half as a small child. This resulted in an enormous, disfiguring scar, which meant one of her eyes was gone, her nose was destroyed, and her lips were wrenched to one side. Hester being scared isn’t what I have a problem with, what I have a problem with is the fact that the author feels compelled to constantly mention how ugly Hester is, and it gets annoying and tiresome real quick.

~Female Protagonist Problems – Mad Love: In the first book, Hester Shaw was a fourteen-year-old anti-hero who could hold her own in a fight and is considered Street-Smart. Hester has experienced some seriously traumatic events and yet, like her adoptive father Shrike, she manages to keep going.

Hester is a dark but interesting character, however, she is also a product of the dystopian environment she lives in. Hester and Tom have been made to witness the worst their world has to offer, however, and while the two of them and have managed to survive regardless, it’s obvious they have different perspectives of the world.

In the second book, there has been a time skip, Hester and Tom are two years older, and the two of them are in a relationship. As a result of this, Hester transforms from an interesting Action Girl/Anti-Hero into a Hormone-Addled Teenager, and I can understand why this move turned off a lot of readers that had enjoyed the previous book.

In this respect, I can see why the movie aged Hester and Tom up, as the morality of and ethics of a situation are easier to digest if these actions are being undertaken by an adult, instead of a minor. I’m not excusing what Hester does, however, her actions need to be seen through the lens of a traumatised teenage-girl afraid to lose the one good thing she has in her life.

Hester’s traumatic history make her actions understandable and sympathetic. Hester’s train of thought and the actions she takes makes sense when taken into context. Or at least they do to me. This type of problem comes back to the issue regarding a lack of Reasonable Adults that Hester could have talked to about the situation. I mean, if Shrike had still been alive, this situation would have been resolved very differently.

All in all, I felt as though this novel had a lot of potentials that it failed to either capitalise on or expand further, and I have a feeling that a lot of the elements that have been brought up here, like Stalker robots and The Lost Boys, are going to have either a reappearance or a bigger role in the next book. A fascinating conclusion to Book 2 of an interesting series

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: The background of the image is yellow with a repeating random pattern of sillohetted images: a pair of glasses, three books stacked together, a lamp, and an open book. In the center foreground of the image is a black sphere with the following text in yellow: “RMFAO presents… 2020 Genre Challenge.” with “since 2014” written in white text underneath.

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