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Mortal Engines (Predator Cities) Paperback – 7 Jun 2012
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The hero is Tom, an apprentice historian from London who is left behind by the great moving city after foiling an assassination attempt on his boss. The would-be killer is a young woman, Hester, who it transpires is seeking revenge for the attack that killed her parents and left her with facial scars. From there they embark on an adventure to return to London and prevent the unleashing of a terrible weapon.
It's a very clever idea and of course ideal for turning into a film. Tom is a likeable character, Hester is harder to get to know as the story is always from Tom's point of view. There is also a subplot with two characters back in London unpicking the nefarious activities of London's rulers. It is a brutal world described and a brutal story. There isn't any sugar coating going on here. The body count ends up surprisingly high and I was shocked by how ruthless Reeve was, particularly in a first book of a series.
I found it a bit too grim and harsh for my taste. There were some fascinating, promising characters that were killed off before they fulfilled their potential. My other criticism is that the plot itself felt predictable and fitting into the model of various other fantasy adventures. The concept and world building are original but the actual storyline isn't, and other than the degree Reeve is prepared to discard his characters, there was nothing really surprising about it.
Even so, it was a good, exciting read and a very interesting world. I will probably read the next book and am certainly interested to see the film as I think it will be visually impressive. But I'm not going to rush to buy the next one - it's good but not to the extent I can't wait for the next instalment.
In the future after the sixty minute war ruins most the planet cities and towns have lifted themselves off of the static ground onto giant traction treads and roam the planet with the biggest hunting down the smaller moving towns to swallow them up and absorb their resources. I really like the idea of this and though its a young adult book it should have still been pretty engaging but it seems the author doesn't have the skill to really write it.
The lead character Tom is a third class apprentice from London who gets absorbed into a plot by accident and dumped off the city and needs to find his way back. Tom is boring, that is the only way to describe him really, I just don't care about what happens to him or anything he does. 50% of the way through the book and all the characters feel so two dimensional, I just don't have any interest in any of them, there is no real depth or character development at all. Even when things are happening that should be more interesting it somehow lacks any urgency and I just couldn't finish reading it.
A real shame as the idea is great but the execution just doesn't land in my opinion.
+ Idea of roaming steampunk cities is fantastic.
- The characters are so flat, lacking depth.
- Found nothing that was happening engaging, it just couldn't make me care.
Written for children but really- anyone could read and enjoy this. I recommend you give it a try! 🙂