Book Review: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
A friend introduced me to this book and its opening line:
It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.
I loved the concept of this book – mobile cities hunting each other like animals, trying to survive in a post one-minute war future. London is one of the greater cities, but even it will falter if it does not find better hunting grounds.
The first protagonist we meet is Tom, a friendless orphan, who soon becomes wrapped up in the espionage brought on board London by Hester Shaw – a once pretty girl, hideously scarred by Tom’s hero, Valentine, against whom Hester seeks revenge. Valentine is also the father of Katherine, who in turn meets shy engineer, Pod, as she searches for the truth about her dad. The four of them are, typically,very unlikely heroes and, what I appreciated more, unlikely couples. I was pleasantly surprised by their ultimate fates and the fate of those they meet along their journeys. Not everything needs a Hollywood ending.
The book fails slightly on delivery. Some things feel a bit rushed, and I was frustrated by the change of tense that usually came when dealing with an ‘evil’ character. Initially the change to present tense is bound within the respective chapters, but when everything and everyone comes together in the end, it becomes an annoyance.
This isn’t enough of an issue to prevent the book from being enjoyable. It is part of a series based on an interesting concept, so I am curious to learn more about this future.