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Mortal Engines

by Philip Reeve

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mortal Engines Quartet (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,544963,991 (3.88)170
In the distant future, when cities move about and consume smaller towns, a fifteen-year-old apprentice is pushed out of London by the man he most admires and must seek answers in the perilous Out-Country, aided by one girl and the memory of another.
  1. 20
    Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Maid_Marian)
  2. 10
    Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (Jannes)
    Jannes: Airships and high adventure in a post-apocalyptic and retrofuturistic word. Also, air pirates.
  3. 21
    Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (Jesh1721)
  4. 21
    Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve (joririchardson)
  5. 10
    Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Rubbah)
  6. 00
    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (passion4reading)
    passion4reading: Intelligent and thought-provoking children's/YA fiction with an unusual premise.
  7. 00
    Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (Enyonam)
  8. 00
    Worldshaker by Richard Harland (Maid_Marian)
  9. 00
    The Teacher's Tales of Terror / Traction City by Chris Priestley (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Traction City features a young Anna Fang, who subsequently has a major role to play in Mortal Engines and its sequels.
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» See also 170 mentions

English (95)  Dutch (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
Why did I wait so long to read this book (actually listen to Barnaby Edwards' marvelous audio rendition)??? I LOVE THIS BOOK! Funny, arresting, with great characters and a plot that, like the enormous treads of the traction city London, barrels along at a thrilling pace. There is so much to love, not the least the concept of movable mega-cities literally gobbling up smaller burbs and the suburban engines that live in fear. I was mesmerized by the chapters mentioning Panzerstadt-Bayreuth, which roams the Great Hunting Ground that was Europe in search of cities and towns to devour. Totally absorbing and wonderful. Reeve has a real talent with names and building his world in a way that totally serves the story.
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
A YA, dystopian, steampunk story about mobile cities and the quest of 3 young adults to stop an evil plot. The book follows a boy and girl as they are outcast from London and have to make their way through "land" to make their way back to London. A second girl lives in the upper caste of London and discovers that life isn't as grand as she is led to believe. There is a good amount of world building, but plenty of unanswered questions. The plot is interesting and engaging. The villains of the story are sub-par with little motivation, but the story is only told through the protagonist eyes. This is an enjoyable book, and while I don't usually read many YA books, I'm looking forward to continuing the series. ( )
  renbedell | Jun 12, 2020 |
So first off, I’d just like to ask WHY ON EARTH DID THEY CHANGE THE MAIN CHARACTER WHEN THEY ADAPTED THIS TO FILM??? Just watching the trailers for the movie (which is what got me into the book to begin with) spoiled the first twist in the book. That was annoying. Anyway, in the book, the main character is Tom Natsworthy, who I really like and who seems to have been relegated to love-interest status in the movie. (But I could be wrong, since I’m basing that assumption off the trailers alone.) Hester Shaw, the MC in the movie, is the secondary main character. And if I remember right, she doesn’t even have as much POV time as Katherine Valentine does? So… yeah. Personally, I think that was a mistake.

Part of the reason I’m annoyed they didn’t keep Tom as the MC is that, in the book, he has a wayyyyy more interesting arc. His entire worldview changes, and personally I think it was written pretty well. Meanwhile, Hester’s arc is… learning she’s not ugly? Except there’s not a natural progression and the only cause I can see for it is a male character learning to love her? So that whole arc was super weak. I’m assuming they fixed that in the movie and gave her a stronger (probably totally different, knowing book-to-movie adaptations) arc. But still. As far as the book is concerned, lousy arc.

Then there’s the second MC, Katherine Valentine. I liked her, but she kept coming across as way younger than she’s supposed to be. I think she’s supposed to be 16/17, but she just kept sounding… I don’t know. Just too young. Partially it was naivety, which fit her character, but there was also just something about her voice that made her seem like she was closer to 14 than 17. :P

In the same section of the story (it was split basically between Tom’s POV and Katherine’s), there’s Pod. I liked Pod. Pod was sweet. But… that was pretty much all he was. He was useful to the plot, I guess, but he didn’t especially have a (realistic) impact on any of the other characters, so he kind of fell flat and felt one-dimensional. And this was fairly representative of all the side characters. They were just kind of… there. They didn’t really have much impact on things. With one exception, which I’ll get into later.

NEITHER OF THE VILLAINS WERE INTIMIDATING. AT ALL. And if Valentine was supposed to have a redemption arc, it didn’t work. Both villains were cowardly at best and flat at worst. The big bad boss dude was way in the background and didn’t do any damage. Valentine… also didn’t really do any damage… I mean sorta. But it didn’t feel imposing or threatening to me. And he was a big ol’ coward, so that significantly lessened the intimidation factor. Overall, not impressed with the villains.

All right, now that I’ve talked about a whole bunch of the bad… Let’s get into some good, shall we?

I loved the worldbuilding. I was intrigued by the idea of cities on wheels from the movie trailer, but that’s not what won me over in the books. What won me over most were the references to “old tech.” Reeve did an AMAZING job of portraying what people in the future would think of the tech/society/pop culture of today, and it was a lot of fun to read about. I’m not so sure about the religions he invented (I really don’t think we’re going to all be worshiping the same handful of gods that didn’t exist before this point, or that no one will be part of existing religions, and if we weren’t supposed to assume that there are no other religions in Mortal Engines then the currently-existing religions should probably have at least been mentioned, if the future religions were going to be a normal part of everyday life.), but otherwise the worldbuilding was fun.

Now to the one side character who was not boring: Anna Fang. Anna was a lot of fun, and Reeve did a great job of giving her memorable quirks. And the explanation of her teeth–while not clear, per se?–was cool and semi-believable.

As a final note, there are a handful of lines in this book that made me laugh out loud. Although it was late, so I’m not sure how accurate a representation of their humor that is. What I remember clearest is this exchange:

…he couldn’t find his shirt at all, until he crawled closer to the scarred girl and realized she was busy tearing it into strips that she was using to bandage her wounded leg.

“Hey!” he said. “That’s one of my best shirts!”

“So?” she replied without looking up. “It’s one of my best legs.”

Overall, there wasn’t quite enough to the book to make it especially memorable, but it was fairly enjoyable to read once. There might be some mild language to warn of, if you decide to read it (I don’t remember). I think there might have been one or two kisses. Tom is briefly shirtless, but not for any reason other than that Hester needed to bandage her leg. There’s a fair amount of violence and death. Otherwise, I think it’s clean. ( )
  RMArcher | Jun 10, 2020 |
This was very enjoyable. I had seen the movie, so I knew the basic premise. It was a fun read/listen. I will definitely be looking into the follow up books. ( )
  expatb | Jun 8, 2020 |
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. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Reeveprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frankland, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Sarah
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
It's Municipal
Darwinism, where cities on
tracks devour towns.
(passion4reading)
Powerful children's
fiction that ought to be a
must-read for grown-ups.
(passion4reading)

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