Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

In the future, municipal Darwinism is King. After massive world-wide destruction, cities and towns have become mobile structures lumbering across continents 'eating' each other in a race to acquire more materials, fuel, and even slaves. Young Tom Natsworthy was born and bred in the traction city of London and even if he is only a third class apprentice in the Guild of Historians and an orphan, he's content to be a part of that great city - a pinnacle of progress. While on assignment, Tom can't believe his luck when he finally meets his hero, Mr. Valentine, the brave archeologist and darling of London - and his beautiful daughter Katherine. But after witnessing something he shouldn't have, he finds himself lost in the rugged Out-Country, desperate to find a way back to London and joined by the scarred Hester Shaw, a young girl bent on revenge and delightfully flawed. As Tom and Hester race across the desolate landscape after the mobile London, they face death at every turn as they stumble across pirates, slavers, and even the resistance movement, the Anti-Tractionist League.

Every so often I stumble across a little-known book that really hits a high note. I should have known Mortal Engines would have been a Sure Thing knowing it was 1. a dystopian book and 2. chock full of compelling characters, but be warned: this book will pull you in faster than you can say "anti-Tractionist League." Truly engrossing, the non-stop action of Tom and Hester's journey left me stunned. The whole idea that after massive world destruction, technology has evolved to allow entire civilizations to become mobile is fascinating. Throw in a very active resistance movement and the fact that Philip Reeve presents compelling arguments for each side without ever forcing an opinion on his readers and you've got yourself some compelling reading.

Staggering world building aside, characters are what make this book a stand-out. And I don't just mean the main characters; Mortal Engines boasts a superb supporting cast. The red-clad pilot Anna Fang: charming and kind but who would like nothing better than to see the end of mobile cities. The power hungry pirate Chrystler Peavey who only keeps Tom alive in hopes of turning his crew into 'proper gentlemen.' Not to mention Hester Shaw - whose scarred face and thirst for revenge has her wary of any overture of friendship. Be warned, as meticulous Philip Reeve is with crafting his characters, he doesn't think twice about killing them off. Several times, I would re-read passages thinking "did he really just do it again??! NOOO!!" But that's okay, I'm planning on returning to The Hungry City Chronicles just to find out what unique individual he's planning on introducing me to next.

series reading order:
~ Mortal Engines
~ Predator's Gold
~ Infernal Devices
~ A Darkling Plain

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Loons review
Green Man review
SF Site review review

book source: my local library


Rhiannon Hart said...

Wow, I've never heard of these books but they sound amazing! I love dystopian stuff. Thanks for the heads up. (They also sound a wee bit like Leviathan, which I'm dying to read.)

Michelle said...

Rhiannon - It did remind me a bit of Leviathan - which I also loved! But very unique and some amazing characters. Plus, they are all out already so no waiting on cliff-hangers!

Rhiannon Hart said...

I forgot which blog I saw this on, but it was yours! Thanks again for the recommendation :)

Michelle said...

Rhiannon - always happy to make recommendations!! I get plenty off your blog ;)