Review: Philip Reeve – Mortal Engines (K)

Mortal Engines
Philip Reeve

Tom has lived all his life in London – not the city as we know it, but a giant monstrosity on wheels, which captures smaller settlements for spare parts and enslaves those aboard. Everything changes, however, when a young girl with a prominent scar is captured and his life changes forever. The pair fall off London and must make their way back on foot.

This was quite a nice light read, the story was interesting but simple to follow, and I had no trouble understanding what everyone was doing. This was particularly impressive to me, as there are times where the story is split between 3 different POVs, and I usually find that I struggle to keep everything in my head when this occurs.

The characters were all interesting and 3-dimensional characters. Even the villains had something more to offer than simply being evil for evil’s sake, or just wanting power. My favourite part of this book was absolutely the secondary characters, as they all had interesting traits to make them unique and help them stand out. That said, this emphasis on making every character stand out did somewhat decrease the realism, as some of the character traits didn’t quite make sense in context, and did not seem like they would be feasible in real life

While the characters themselves were interesting, the character progression in the book felt a little forced. The main example of this is with the main characters Tom and Hester. In the beginning of the book, Tom consistently thinks of Hester in insulting terms – often describing her as ‘ugly’ due to the scar on her face. It felt forced and a little rushed when he went from this to finding that he ‘would miss her lop-sided smiles’. I feel it would have been better if it had taken him longer to come to this conclusion, or if he’d had conflict with himself about his feelings towards her clashing with his opinions on her looks.

One other issue I found was Hester seemed to be too worldly. While the main character of a story is typically more interesting than the average person, and Hester’s backstory explained why she may have met lots of people, it felt unrealistic, as she had a personal connection with almost all of the villains in the book. Some of these connections definitely benefited the story, but there were others that did not contribute much, and I wish hadn’t been included.

I’m giving this story a 4/5, as the idea and storyline were amazing, and far outshone the issues I had with the writing. I feel this book would be best for a younger audience but could be enjoyed by anyone.

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