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Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve Review

Title: Mortal Engines

Author: Philip Reeve

First published November 16, 2001

310 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780060082079 (ISBN10: 0060082070)

Rating: 3.76


In the post-apocalyptic world of Mortal Engines, the city of London is an unstoppable force, chasing down smaller, weaker towns in a quest for power and resources. Thaddeus Valentine, the Head Historian, and his daughter Katherine are caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy when a scarred assassin attempts to take Valentine’s life.

With the help of Tom, an unlikely hero, they set out on a dangerous journey across the wasteland, facing fierce opposition from other predatory cities and the secrets buried deep within London itself. This thrilling tale of betrayal, survival, and Municipal Darwinism will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

About the Author

Born and raised in Brighton, Philip Reeve spent several years working in a bookshop. During this time, he co-wrote, produced, and directed several low-budget theatre projects.

Reeve eventually transitioned to illustrating and has contributed cartoons to approximately forty children’s books. This includes the popular Horrible Histories, Murderous Maths, and Dead Famous series.

His latest novel, Railhead, published by Oxford University Press, is set to release in October 2015. Additionally, Reeve recently collaborated with Sarah McIntyre on the book Pugs of the Frozen North, which is currently available.

Editoral Review

In Philip Reeves Mortal Engines, readers are swept away to a post-apocalyptic world where gigantic cities on wheels roam the earth, devouring smaller towns and constantly warring with one another. This thrilling YA novel is the first in a four-book series and was first published in November 2001.

Reeve, an English author and illustrator, uses his inventive imagination to create a vivid and detailed world full of adventure, danger, and unexpected twists. The steampunk style of the book is fascinating, as the technology seems almost believable, even as it is set in a seemingly impossible future world.

The themes of the book delve into social structures and justice, as well as the consequences of greed and unchecked power.

Set in a future where Earth’s resources have been all but depleted and cities have become mobile in order to survive, Mortal Engines follows the story of Tom Natsworthy, a boy of the lower class living in a moving city named London.

After a disastrous attack by the city of Salthook, Tom finds himself stranded on the plains with the vastly educated and incredibly dangerous Hester Shaw.

Together, Tom and Hester embark on an adventure that takes them across the face of the planet, brimming with danger and betrayals, as they learn the truth about the history of their world and the people who govern it.

Along the way, they come face to face with a host of remarkable characters who struggle to survive on this highly imaginative world.

Reeve’s writing is sharp and evocative, utilizing vivid descriptions to bring his dystopian world to life.

The plot is fast-paced, and the story moves quickly, with incredibly detailed world-building, which at times can be overwhelming, but keeps readers captivated throughout the book. While the plot leans towards the young adult genre, Reeve’s writing style makes it enjoyable for readers of all ages.

One of the most impressive aspects of Mortal Engines is the way in which Reeve explores social issues such as power dynamics, social class and injustice. Despite the backdrop of the post-apocalyptic world, these themes resonate with current cultural and societal issues.

The characters in this book are intriguing, and their development is thought-provoking, as Reeve delves deep into their motivations and their humanity.

There are few flaws to Mortal Engines beyond the initial overwhelming amount of details that can be found within the world-building.

Reeve can occasionally shift in tone, attaining a grittier, more realistic edge than the rest of the novel. This choice, however, conflicts against the more fantastical aspects of the story.

Overall, Mortal Engines is a superbly crafted novel that will captivate readers from beginning to end. Reeve builds a world of imagination that is steeped in issues of social injustice, political machinations, and epic adventure.

Fans of the steampunk genre will likely enjoy this book, as will young adult readers looking for an immersive and imaginative adventure, but the writing is mature enough to satisfy older readers as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.