Friday, January 11, 2013

Teen Review: Steampunk / Sci Fi / Dystopia?

Mortal Engines
by Phillip Reeve
296 pages
Science Fiction
Book 1 of 4 in the
Predator Cities quartet
7th grade and up
Reviewed by:
Oleg Alexandrovich Tretiak,
7th grade


In the future, after the great nuclear disaster known as the Sixty Minute War, many cities of the new world have become Traction Cities, huge moving metal monsters always in search of other cities to pick apart and eat. The captured city is ripped apart, tier by tier, until nothing is left. Smaller cities must either run away from bigger cities or be eaten.

The protagonist of the story, Tom Natsworthy, is an orphan who has been taken in by the Guild of Historians after his parents died. He is sent down to the Gut, the place where a newly captured city is ripped apart, after London has caught a small mining city named Salthook. There he meets Thaddeus Valentine, the head of the Guild of Historians and his favorite celebrity, as well as his daughter Katherine. While they are speaking to the residents of the town as well as scavengers from the city, one of them tries to stab Valentine, but she is unsuccessful as Tom pushes her out of the way. He then chases her to the edge of a garbage chute, where she takes off the cowl she is wearing, to show a distorted, scarred face. She tells him to “… ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!” before jumping down the chute, and Tom follows after her shortly when Valentine pushes him down the pipe! After that, they both wander the wasteland trying to get back to London, while a ‘Stalker,’ one of the robotic soldiers that were used in the Sixty Minute War, chases them as ordered by the mayor of London, who has a much greater plan for London…


This book is one of the best I have ever read. I enjoy science fiction very much, and this book gave me exactly what I was expecting. The characters were well thought out, and the description of the scenery is very lifelike. The story is fascinating, and the whole idea of the book with the moving cities is original and appealing. The book drags you into the story and holds you in the moment! That is, until you finish the book. But there are three more, which I am now reading.

My rating: 4.8 / 5

Editor's note: We read this first book in the series for 6+7 Book Club. I went to Philip Reeve's blog, where I found some interesting fan art, including this video on YouTube. It was made by Julia Zhuravleva, a student at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography, and is her first effort at animation--pretty cool! She also did a lot of storyboards, including this picture below.

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