This book gets a solid OKAY from me good for young adult, but just fine overall There was one thing about it that I couldn t get behind, and that one thing got in the way of my enjoyment More on that below.Generally speaking, this writing was too young for me, but this time I say that as an observation, not a critique, because it s written meant for a younger audience middle grade level Readers who enjoy YA would enjoy it as well, but the writing gave me that feeling that it was written with young readers in mind Almost everything about it was geared toward young readers, from the young wholesome protagonists who are eager to throw themselves into the fray, to their fight to overthrow a corrupt system, to their grand magnanimous ideals, to the industrialized dystopian setting, to the bleak look at an environmentally devastating future, to the mustache twirling villains, to the non stop action, and the list goes on, right into the spoilers So I ll stop listing things here.I would recommend this book to young readers and anyone looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation It s a little violent for YA, with some characters getting killed rather graphically, but the ideas and visuals and hydraulics this book inspire will look incredible on screen.To get to that one thing that took me out of the story, I have to explain a little about the set up The conceit, Municipal Darwinism, is really interesting The execution, though, is not as interesting Municipal Darwinism is basically big cities consuming smaller cities Once consumed, the smaller cities get broken into parts and their resources are used to fuel the bigger cities The people who are consumed either assimilate and resettle in the new city or they are enslaved it all depends on how ethical the cities doing the consuming are Not all big cities are predators though A few of them are peaceful, and survive by trading with smaller municipals I find them interesting than the predators and wanted to find out about them, but this story s focus is on predator cities 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 These cities aren t just cities stuck on land, though They re traction cities Yeah, that s right, they can move They can run actually Up to 100 km per hour, if I remember correctly Yeah This was where the book lost me I could not imagine a city the size of London running around the world eating almost everything in sight at roughly 60 to 100 km per hour I mean, the weight it carries alone would snap its appendages clean off every time it tries to move forward Unless, somehow, the atmosphere is less dense and or gravity is no longer a thing in this world I don t know I could imagine everything this book threw at me, everything but cities running around on traction.Apparently not being able to buy into this one thing unravels the whole book because I found the rest of the story hard to take in while I tried to work out how London was racing across the world, gulping down other cities.I went through the same thing with Updraft by Fran Wilde The ideas introduced bone towers and flying contraptions were really interesting, but the ways in which they were incorporated into the story and dystopian setting didn t make much sense to me, and that took me right out of the world the author tried so hard to create And once it lost me, I could not get back into it.So that was my stumbling block for Mortal Engines Wish I could have liked it because it s got four books in the series, and I love series but I love solid world building So not dismissing these books completely, just gonna put it on the maybe list for now.Cross posted at Third ReviewYou can read this review over at my website as well The Write Stuff and you will also be able to read my review of the film once I watch it in December 2018 The Hungry City Chronicles is one of my favourite book series from childhood I was around twelve to fourteen years old when I first read the series The ideal age to read these novels and to be entertained by them I had no preconceptions about literature structure No knowledge about in media res or three act story telling However, I had some concepts about the quality of a story based on the other material I was reading and had read Take The Lord of the Rings my favourite novel of all still today for a variety of reasons Or maybe consider that I was also consuming Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Little Women and many other classics And for me, Mortal Engines as an entire series was up on a pedestal.Revisiting the series I can see some obvious flaws in the writing There is a large amount of obvious foreshadowing, and many of the characters are thinly sketched In many regards they feel like simple avatars for the expression of the world around them Yet again, the idea of this novel is certainly bigger than the novel s telling In a charming way the novel s faults appear whimsical in adulthood, with the world existing as a patchwork of unique science fiction ideas.It is a novel in a future world, in which cities drive along on treads and devour smaller cities In the process of this Municipal Darwinism cities absorb various resources and items from these other cities This future world has been devastated by a previous apocalypse, splitting the land into the roaming cities and a few Anti Tractionists The Anti Tractionists believe cities should live on the ground and not move around It is a world in which the concepts of extremist capitalism are shown on an artistic canvas, warning the reader of the dangers of cities existing in isolationism The reader is shown that a world in which cities devour one another to maintain some kind of importance on the Earth is no world worth living in.In many ways, the cool elements of this novel that attracted the adolescent version of myself are mere distractions The scarred heroine, the bookish protagonist, the cyborg zombies, and the moving and eating cities The real essence of this novel is found in the heart of what it has to share about humanity our present and our future And that is what truly touched me and continues to influence me now as an adult re reader Second ReviewTime has certainly tempered my approach to this series particularly to this book however I remain convinced that this work of fiction remains at a higher calibre of fiction than many others in the same subgenre of YA fiction My re read would therefore re categorise it to closer to 4 or 4.5 stars in the light of the fact that I did not find it as engaging as reading it for the first time, and I hold to the notion that a book must be as fine the second time as it is the first.The novel is an apocalyptic YA fiction work, set far into the future where, as described in my original review cities roam around as mobile vehicles which chase and eat other cities for resources The historians on these cities hunt through the wreckage of prey for mysterious Old Tech such as seedys CDs However, given that this is set far into the future such other Old Tech exists such as robotically animated zombies called stalkers which are reainimated corpses made for war and energy weapons most of which has been lost to any semblance of society that remains The setting is one of the most fascinating parts of this series and as the series continues this setting develops and you see fascinating science fiction concepts and greater development of the characters as well Which is probably what I noticed about this first novel while charming, the characters were slightly sketchy in terms of their descriptions and emotional construction That said, as I also recall the series becomes emotional and romantic as it continues.All in all, a highly recommended series, possibly best aimed at 13 16 year olds, who are looking for something in a science fiction vein It s certainly much better written than The Hunger Games and has as interesting or interesting a world and characters Original ReviewMortal Engines as a series is a master class in inventive YA science fiction There are very few series where I can state that the last novel is my favourite in full honesty Often I will read a series and the last novel will bring it all to a painful or awkward close Which is what I am hoping will not happen with The Wheel of Time and the last Obernewtyn book I do know for a fact that this is not what happened here.The world of Mortal Engines is dominated by Municipal Darwinism This is the idea used to promote and state that the city eat city mentality is acceptable So, you re saying, city eat city, is that a metaphor Well not in this work of speculative fiction.In Philip Reeve s post apocalyptic world cities literally eat one another They move on tractor treads and few people ever touch the ground Tom, the main protagonist certainly had never touched ground until Hester Shaw knocked him off London Well she was trying to escape her failed attempt to kill one of London s dignitaries and a kind of zombie robot And so begins one intriguing and interesting journey for Tom and Hester as they try and stop a plot brewing on London itself.If you enter this series you will find technological discoveries, swords, guns, explosions, fireworks, loads of zombie robot machines and intriguing and zany characters of all racial types and genders It s a brilliant series and one I would love to have on my bookshelf to own. 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 The Great Traction City London Has Been Skulking In The Hills To Avoid The Bigger, Faster, Hungrier Cities Loose In The Great Hunting Ground But Now, The Sinister Plans Of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome Can Finally UnfoldThaddeus Valentine, London S Head Historian And Adored Famous Archaeologist, And His Lovely Daughter, Katherine, Are Down In The Gut When The Young Assassin With The Black Scarf Strikes Toward His Heart, Saved By The Quick Intervention Of Tom, A Lowly Third Class Apprentice Racing After The Fleeing Girl, Tom Suddenly Glimpses Her Hideous Face Scarred From Forehead To Jaw, Nose A Smashed Stump, A Single Eye Glaring Back At Him Look At What Your Valentine Did To Me She Screams Ask Him Ask Him What He Did To Hester Shaw And With That She Jumps Down The Waste Chute To Her Death Minutes Later Tom Finds Himself Tumbling Down The Same Chute And Stranded In The Out Country, A Sea Of Mud Scored By The Huge Caterpillar Tracks Of Cities Like The One Now Steaming Off Over The HorizonIn A Stunning Literary Debut, Philip Reeve Has Created A Painful Dangerous Unforgettable Adventure Story Of Surprises, Set In A Dark And Utterly Original World Fueled By Municipal Darwinism And Betrayal Ay dame, Peter Jackson Eres mi ltima esperanza.Este libro ha hecho tambalear los cimientos de mi firme creencia de que el worldbuilding es sumamente importante en un libro Porque da igual que el worldbuilding sea genial, si tu historia, tus personajes, tu narrativa y tu traducci n son una casta a, tu libro va a ser cuatro veces una casta a M quinas Mortales es un escenario incre blemente bonito para una obra de teatro de mierda interpretada por los peores autores del mundo.Dios, rezo porque la pel cula sea mejor Porque no creo que pueda soportar algo tan absolutamente malo como ha sido este libro. I was thinking to myself as I read this wow, this seems like a great YA novel that has major overtones of steampunk and dystopia I would have LOVED this back in the early 2000 s.I really should have read it back then Seriously.Because now, after a glut of dystopia, strange steampunk even if it is a far future dystopia , and charming YA characters also glutting the market, Mortal Engines now feels a bit dated.The cities chomping down on each other and the later spoilerish coolness is still cool, mind you And the characters are cute in the I ve seen this a million times by now and sigh kind of cute way.But now Does it really stand as a work of grand imagination Maybe some bits The rest, well, it s okay.Sorry, fans I think I wanted to love this based on the premise The bad guys were pretty cool but nothing really that spectacular A certain assassin, notwithstanding. It s town eat town worldI separate YA dystopian books in two categories based on two popular series Hunger games it s children and books similar to Chaos walking Mortal engines is latter.While it s bit older they are definitively branches of the same tree which has roots in old fantasy.Mortal Engines is steampunk dystopia where after huge war ground become unstable and resources become scarce so entire settlements became mobile Thousand years later and towns still roam and devour each other for slaves and resources Our protagonist is just poor boy, nobody loves him, who lives in one such city but his lives but after he stops one of towns officials being assassinated by mutilated girl things go badly for him as bunch of city s dirty secrets come to light and soon he finds himself out of town he knew all his life and on dangerous adventure with above mentioned girl in old fantasy style full of interesting places, people and well written banter.Overall 4.4 stars I m not mindblown but this was extremely fun and well written adventure in interesting setting Warm recommendation. 3.75 i really enjoyed A post apocalypse dystopian future where cities survive by traveling on tank like vehicles I was instantly sold on the idea the first time I caught the trailer for the forthcoming movie.I had to read the book I love the world that Reeve has created, London feels so familiar yet different here.The idea that big cities can consume smaller locations was such an intriguing narrative, though eerily felt too similar to our own expansion and building on rural areas.The wordplay and descriptions were great, my favourite being the pirate town called Tunbridge Wheels It was clearly a nod to the Kent town Tunbridge Wells, though I wonder how many American readers would have missed that reference Mortal Engines is an enchanting blend of steampunk, dystopia, and whimsy The adventure is grand, the world is alive, and the characters are memorable In the distant future, the earth is little than barren landscape cluttered with the rusted remnants of crumbling infrastructure People have raised the cities from the ground, retrofitting them with rolling tracks and steaming engines to prowl the wastes in search of smaller cities to devour for scrap The mining town saw the danger and turned tail, but already the huge caterpillar tracks under London were starting to roll faster and faster Soon the city was lumbering in hot pursuit, a moving mountain of metal that rose in seven tiers like the layers of a wedding cake, the lower levels wreathed in engine smoke, the villas of the rich gleaming white on the higher decks, and above it all the cross on top of St Paul s Cathedral glinting gold, two thousand feet above the ruined earth. Enter fifteen year old Tom, Third Class Apprentice to the Guild of Historians, who daydreams of rescuing pretty girls from air pirates Tom could really use a little adventure in his life Cue the mysterious girl with a terrible scar running down her face whose chance encounter with Tom leads to far adventure than he bargained for. So do they hand out those literary prizes for anything now Second bad review in the same week, but I have to be honest I read this book because my boyfriend read it when he was a kid teen and he said he remembered it as awesome Well, I guess we look at things differently when we re kids.And yet I know a lot of kids books that have brilliant writing, good story building and don t need to be dumbed down.Let me just put it in the form of a nice list The good good morals underneath nice idea about the way the world works, the hungry cities the ending did absolve it a little bit for a YA book, it wasn t overburdened with love triangles or worse as is usually the case That would be about it.The bad it never gets anywhere until you reach 50% stuff just happens in a jumble, never leading up to anything for half the book either stuff is just too damn predictable the writing is kind of bad than half the important characters are killed off at 95% Seriously Were you going for some drama here it feels unfinished Or was I reading a first draft Sure felt like it.There was one point, and to be honest, I am having trouble figuring out if it should go with the good or the bad things This would work as a movie It s written like a movie But not one of those cinematic books More like a book that really wanted to be a movie, but couldn t So it s only half a book.To sum it up, no it s not a bad book Maybe not if you re 12 But I still feel that kids books CAN and should be better than that You can make it a kids book without writing it poorly.Sometimes I wonder if maybe I should write a book someday too But then I read something like this and get scared that I ll just write one like that too Then I think, maybe it s best not to try.
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 Un
- 326 pages
- Mortal Engines
- Philip Reeve
- 13 July 2017 Philip Reeve