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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite
This book grabbed me with its opening sentence, as good books will, and it had me gripped right to the end. It's a wonderful story wonderfully told, packed with clever conceits and vividly depicted characters and set in a fascinating and imperfect future which recalls Victorian England in some ways and Mad Max in others. Readers who have enjoyed Philip Pullman's fiction...
Published on 22 April 2004 by nic

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing start, originality not well sustained.
I came to this as part of an undergraduate children's literature course. I think there is a role for dystopian science-fiction as commentary on the present day, for adults and teens. The literary criticism around this book suggests that it is such a commentary. The first sentence was intriguing and I was looking forward to reading it and possibly its sequels. However by...
Published 3 months ago by LadyMustard


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, 22 April 2004
By 
This book grabbed me with its opening sentence, as good books will, and it had me gripped right to the end. It's a wonderful story wonderfully told, packed with clever conceits and vividly depicted characters and set in a fascinating and imperfect future which recalls Victorian England in some ways and Mad Max in others. Readers who have enjoyed Philip Pullman's fiction are likely to fall for Mortal Engines hard and fast. Not only are the characters thoroughly beguiling, not only is the plot fast-paced and twisty, but there are *layers* here - just as the moving cities are built of layer upon layer. Reeve is also a wordsmith of no mean skill - there are phrases that leap off the page and force a person to pause and re-read and savour. Lovely.
Appropriate for readers aged 11ish upwards, I'd say, who are prepared to read something with more moral ambiguity than Harry Potter.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and dazzlingly brilliant, 11 Feb 2004
In this unique and innovative novel, set a thousand years in the future, the surface of Earth has been corrupted beyond all recognition, and cities have been forced to mount themselves in order to catch ‘prey’ (smaller, weaker cities), which they digest, after a fashion, to help them survive. Tom Natsworthy, a young apprentice in London’s Guild of Engineers, yearns to go on adventures of the sort that his idol Thaddeus Valentine goes on all the time. However when a young disfigured assassin, Hester Shaw, tries to kill Valentine, Tom’s world is really turned on its head. He is forced to live on the ‘Bare Earth’, an idea totally alien to him, and he comes to learn more about his hero than he would have wanted. Though this may seem formulaic, Reeve injects a very welcome style of arch and knowing humour, to prevent any cloying sentimentality from creeping in. There are references to our culture today, however they are obscured by time; for example people in Mortal Engines believe that Mickey and Pluto are the animal-headed gods of America, much in the same way that we think of Anubis and Horus as gods of Egypt!
In Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve has created something startlingly original. The universe of ‘Municipal Darwinism’ seems fully formed within Reeve’s head, and its realisation is brilliant. For examples the concept of ‘Anti-Tractionism’ seems totally real within this universe, as do all the prejudices felt towards it by those who live on Traction Towns. Reeve has even created new terms e.g. ‘urbivore’, ‘scavenger suburb’ and ‘static settlement’ (what we would know today as normal houses). This is all played through with a brilliantly dry sense of humour (e.g. Tunbridge ‘Wheels’, as opposed to ‘Wells’), and turn of phrase akin to that of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. Certainly the innovation is of the same standard. It would be quite easy for me to rave all day about the idiosyncrasies and invention that abounds in Mortal Engines, however that would ruin the delight and relish that can be taken in reading this exceptional work for the first time.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give me MORE!!!, 25 Mar 2007
This is a thumping good read. It's got everything that you need: High adventure, romance, revenge. For god's sake, it's even got Pirates!

Like so many of the other reviewers, I stubled upon this, without meaning to. I had been given book tokens, and was left with a pound to spend. The lovely man in the shop suggested this, and his selection was far superior to my own.

The writing is brilliant (if you like that sort of thing) with exactly the right word slipped in without you noticing so that the visuals are spectacular.

And the story leads you on it's not so merry dance through the crazy upside down world that Reeve has invented, sucking you in so that you hang on every plot twist and cliff hanger.

I am going to get the next one tomorrow. If you don't already have this, then go and get it.

Now!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've ever read., 27 May 2004
This exciting and enthralling book by Phillip Reeve has kept me from boredom during the most boring of times in my life, study leave(GCSE's). It would not have been my first choice of book but I will certainly continue to read the sequel and any other oncoming novels to be written in this style. The imagination and inspriration conjoured by Reeve to create the fantasy world like no other is the only reason you need to buy this book. The comic characters and numerous unexpected twists all make it the best book I've ever read.
The use of such descriptive language on apsects of the future fantasy make it a beleivable story and make you think how technologically advanced our world today really is. The hunting ground and "Thrill of the chase" will trigger the primal instncts inside you. Reeve has taken a story in the future and reverted it, in parts, back to prehistoric times.
If you liked Harry Potter but found it a little long winded and slow at times then this could be the perfect book for you. Hopefully you will enjoy the read as much as I have.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging conventions, 21 Sep 2003
By A Customer
A excellent fantasy adventure that keeps you gripped to the end. Gritty and brutal in parts, it also has it's tender moments.What makes this book special though, is the way it challenges conventions of beauty and heroism. It does this not in a crass and overally moralist way, but through a well devised plot that takes you through the experiences of the main characters and the growth of their relationship. When Tom begins to realise his affection lies not with the beautiful girl he met so briefly, but with the badly deformed Hester who he has shared his adventures with, the reader too understands where this affection comes from. This is no Hollywood romance. Tom's dreams of heroism are challenged too when he dicovers the true cost of heroism and that their is no easy way to define good and evil. This story is inventive and exciting. Although the characterisation is not on a par with Phillip Pullman, I suspect this will improve as the sequels are written. If you are a fan of Pullman this is a must.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, reviewed by J. Reader, Beaworthy, 21 July 2006
By 
P "JDR" (Beaworthy, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I read this book as part of reference material and wouldn't otherwise have considered it. How glad I am to have been pointed in its direction. Easily one of the best books I've ever read (and I've read many) and one that leaves you wondering about the future of its surviving characters.

There isn't a single word which doesn't add to the atmosphere, tension and emotion of the unfolding story. Every character evokes some response from the reader and the physical, social and psychological desperation of the towns is effectively conveyed through Reeve's appropriate, but not excessive, description; in fact, in some cases his brevity adds to the stark and bereft circumstance.

Listed as a children's book this is a prime example of the higher standard demanded by children from modern literature. Any adult would take something away from this story. It's brilliantly written and ultimately demonstrates the disappointment that the young so frequently experience when adults fail them; their resilience is empowering to readers.

This is a great book, not one to be rushed though because there's so much to enjoy.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly mixed bag, but the ending makes up for everything, 31 Oct 2002
By 
HLT (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
The best things about Mortal Engines were the first couple of chapters, and the final third (or so) of the book.
Here's the opening sentence:
"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."
If that doesn't get your imagination going, I don't know what will :-)
The book is set in a far-future age of traction cities that roll around a barren landscape, with the strong preying on the weak (capturing their inhabitants and recycling their parts). Gradually, prey is running out...
There's also an area of static cities, which make up the Anti-Traction League, which is in constant rivalry with the traction cities.
The feel is quasi-Victorian: technology has slipped back a long way since our own time, and there's a sense of polished brass and steam-gauges about everything. They use airships and crackly radio-beacons, and fight with swords as well as guns and rockets. Pieces of old technology like computers and robotics are revered and coveted. The atmosphere reminded me (in some ways) of Lyra's world in Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
You can probably tell that I was impressed, overall, but there are two reasons this isn't getting 5 stars from me:
1. I didn't feel engaged with the characters until very late in the book. The viewpoint jumps from person to person too much. For example, if the hero (Tom) is talking to someone who's upset, we're treated to a direct description of that person's emotions and reasons, rather than seeing it through Tom's eyes. That kept distancing me from the main characters, though obviously not everyone is affected by that sort of thing in the same way.
2. Towards the end, Reeve tries to build tension by switching the story to present-tense a few times (it's mostly told in the past tense). The thing is, there was plenty of tension building up anyway - it was really exciting! - and the tense changes kept distracting me and making me think "why did he do that?".
Then again, as someone with a deep interest in fiction, perhaps I'm more analytical than the intended audience for this.
On the positive side, there was a nicely developed romance thread, excellent minor characters - including an anti-hero called Valentine and an aviatrix called Miss Fang - and (with a startlingly high body-count that includes a few characters you might expect to survive) Philip Reeve avoided the sugary ending that I expected while leaving the way open for a sequel.
All in all, this is worthy of consdideration by anyone who enjoys slightly dark childrens' adventure fiction - like Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials or Sally Lockhart books, and I can't say fairer than that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good to restrict to kids!, 13 May 2007
By 
G. Bethune "Graemscifi" (Caithness, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is an awesome story of almost unsurpassed imagination!

From the first page, the first line, this book was wittier and more imaginitive, more simple fun than almost any book i have ever read. It deserves to stand alongside contepory great Fantasy like "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman, Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series and "Diskworld" by Terry Pratchett.

I found myself reading bits out aloud to my flatmates and after a bit there was a queue to get the book next. However you can skip ahead and not wait. You owe it to yourself! I promise you will like it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for kids, 13 Oct 2002
This review is from: Mortal Engines (Hardcover)
I have not been so captivated by a book in a long time. From the opening lines to the explosive climax this book held my interest on so many levels. As a storyteller myself I was kept on the edge of my seat by the concepts and more importantly the characterisation.
Comparison to Potter and Pullman abound in other reviewers comments but I feel that it should be compared to Gibbson and Sterling as it has many themes that echo thorough out the works of both authors but Reeve fails to shy away from the effects of the characters actions.
Some obvious reverences to science fiction ideas Though the character of “Shrike” is the direct descendant of a “Terminator” it is perhaps the most Human of all the characters and will be held in my imagination next to chitty-chitty-bang-bangs’ Child catcher for shear menace.
The Plethora of secondary characters (found so often in epic “quest” tales) are all exquisitely drawn, all complete with individual motivation.
And in many ways that’s is what this book is about . Not only what drives Cities to tare up their roots (and Routs) But what Drives societies to survive and through that, Survive as individuals. Always at a cost to their humanity.
Sold by most of the other reviewers as a book for the TEEN market (what ever that is) I cant recommend this enough to people of all ages. Go on Read it.. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mortal Engines, 4 Jan 2004
By A Customer
I think mortal engines I one of the best books I have ever read it is imaginative, discriptive but not too much, origeanal and unputdownable. Philip Reeve has created a grippinmg adventure that pulls you deep into the world of mortal engines and refused to let you out. He blends superbly a mix of fantacy, adventure, a little science fiction and some romance into a story that you will want to read over and over again. The story is beleivable the plot is brilliant, the characters are memorable and its packed will origeonal ideas. I would reccomend this book as a must to any fantacy fan between 11 and 16
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