Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve: Book Review

MORTAL ENGINES by Philip Reeve Book Review
Series: Mortal Engines, #1

I’m still quite annoyed that Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve isn’t out in the United States, along with the rest of the series. Technically, one could buy this book from the Book Depository, but, alas, I am out of money. I only acquired this through internship… I borrowed it from my mentor. I only finally got to finish it last night at three in the morning. Yes, it’s that kind of book.

Book Summary: 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 is on the move again. It has been lying low, skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, as its great mountain of metal lumbers along in hot pursuit of its quarry, the sinister plans it has harbored for years can finally start to unfold behind its soaring walls …

Thaddeus Valentine, London’s Head Historian and most famous archaeologist, and his daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes. Only the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice, prevents Valentine from being stabbed in the heart. Madly 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 horizon.

In a stunning literary debut, Philip Reeve has created an unforgettable adventure story set in a dark and utterly original world fueled by Municipal Darwinism — and betrayal.

I heard about the Mortal Engines quartet by Philip Reeve while working on Fever Crumb during my internship. I devoured Fever Crumb. I thought it was clever and addicting, and it gave me an appreciation for science fiction. I did start out reading the prequel series (Fever Crumb) but I couldn’t get enough. As much as I wanted to read the books in order, I could not resist the allure of Mortal Engines. Sure, the characters are entirely different, but I wanted to learn more about this futuristic world that Reeve had created in MORTAL ENGINES.

When I first opened the book, I did have my doubts. Was I going to enjoy MORTAL ENGINES by Philip Reeve as much as I enjoyed reading Fever Crumb? To answer that, I did. Immediately, Reeve set a fast pace that made me want to keep flipping the pages. While reading, I get sucked into his world and time flies by without me noticing. I love reading descriptions about “Old Tech” and archaeological finds of modern things that we use currently. I think Philip Reeve brilliantly describes them in MORTAL ENGINES like the foreign things that they will become in the future, like the way we admire a fossil. The concept of Municipal Darwinisim? Genius. It’s still a difficult concept for me to grasp, however. I can’t imagine how our world could be turned into a place where it’s a town eat town society. I don’t think it’s likely to ever happen, but when I’m reading I get convinced otherwise. I loved reading about London society and the separation of the classes. The characters really come to life in MORTAL ENGINES by Philip Reeve, and I found myself rooting for them in the face of peril. Though a bad guy, Shrike was my favorite character. I was fascinated by the Stalkers. I think I kind of developed a soft spot for him.

There’s never a dull moment in MORTAL ENGINES by Philip Reeve. Whether it’s Tom and Hester’s adventures or Kate’s investigations, I just wanted to keep reading on. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the Mortal Engines quartet. Honestly, I cannot wait for Scholastic to repackage the Mortal Engines series for the US market. It’s still probably going to take a while for this to happen, but I assure you that MORTAL ENGINES by Philip Reeve is one of the rare books that I will dash at the store to get. For now, maybe I’ll nab a copy at the Book Depository. Too tempting, indeed.

Rating: StarStarStarStar


  1. Sounds like an interesting read–it sounds almost Margaret Atwood-esque. She’s one of my favorite authors ever, so I should probably check this book out!

  2. Oh Boy but that sounds like a good read. I’ll try to find it – wonder if it would be in my local library. I’ll take a look – thanks for the review. :)

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