Title: Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Quartet #1)
Author: Philip Reeve
No. of pages: Paperback; 296
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Steampunk, Fiction
Publication Date: June 1, 2012 (Originally published November 16, 2001)
Date Read: August 24, 2018
Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City of London chases one terrified little town across the wastelands. If it cannot overpower smaller, slower prey, the city will come to a standstill and risk being taken over by another. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy, Apprentice Historian to the London Museum, is flung from its speeding superstructure into the barren wastelands of Out-Country. His only companion is Hester Shaw, a murderous, scar-faced girl who does not particularly want Tom’s company. But if they are to make it back to London, before Stalkers or hungry cities get them first, they will need to help each other, and fast. If Hester is to be believed, London is planning something atrocious, and the future of the world could be at stake. Can they get back to London before it’s too late?
Last year, I went to a movie with my family and saw a trailer for a movie releasing in 2018 called Mortal Engines. I was intrigued. I forgot all about it until just a few weeks ago when I went to see The Darkest Minds. In the beginning, there was a trailer for, again, Mortal Engines. Again, I was intrigued. And then I found out that it will be a book-to-movie adaptation. Well, obviously, I had to read it. And that’s how this post/review came to be.
I was actually really hoping that this book would be great because the trailer for the movie looks amazing. It was one of the things where I didn’t want to be disappointed… and I wasn’t. Mortal Engines follows, really three main characters: Tom Natsworthy, an Apprentice Historian who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; Hester Shaw, a girl who witnessed the murder of her parents and is on the hunt for revenge; Kate Valentine, a girl whose father is so well known that when she discovers he’s keeping secrets, she does everything to figure them out. These three characters move the story forward and each brings such life to this world and story that Reeve has built and created. In the beginning, it is a bit slow. There’s so much detail and world-building, but it definitely pays off from about 35 percent into the book and on. STICK WITH THIS BOOK. You won’t be disappointed.
One of the things I loved about this book was the growth in the characters. Sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s not just the main three that you meet and see growth in. Even minor characters in this book are around long enough for you to see changes in them and growth, and you learn to either love them or hate them. You learn their background, why they’ve made certain choices, how they’ve coped and come to terms with the cards that life dealt them. One of the things repeated in this book is that it is a “town eat town world.” Even though they made it seem like they needed to be tough because the world was a tough one, all the characters at some point or another showed a side of vulnerability and softness that wouldn’t be valued in this “town eat town” mindset.
Also, may I just say, that the storylines around the evolving friendships/relationships of Tom and Hester, and Kate and Bevis Pod, are extremely well written. They don’t happen in a single moment like most books, but it gets built up to. It’s a lengthy process and it’s so well done. The things that these kids go through in what seems like a short amount of time is unruly and chaotic. I’m glad that Reeve was able to create characters that balanced each other out even through all the trauma. Also, side note: Kate and Bevis deserved better. I’m bitter.
One other thing I loved about this book ended up being the details and the action. There are certain parts of this book where you question why it’s there and then later it hits you why it was added. There are certain characters that are inserted that you don’t understand why they’re there, but later they help move the story forward. The action that happens is so well planned, detailed, and outlined. The entire idea of Traction Cities, especially in 2001 when this book was written, was, I think, non-existent. To have put this much thought, effort, and detail into each and every piece of machinery mentioned must have taken a large amount of time. Reeve didn’t have to do that. But he did. He did it for us.
I’m so incredibly glad that I was able to pick this book up from my local library. I’ll definitely be reading the other books in the series at some point soon the future. I have a dire need to know what comes next in Hester and Tom’s story. I also can’t wait to see this movie when it comes out in December.