Book Review

Book Review | MORTAL ENGINES, by Phillip Reeve

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Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles #1), by L. M. Montgomery

Publish Date: November 16, 2001 (audiobook recorded in October 31, 2017)
Published by: Scholastic Audio
Pages: 286 (approx. 8 hrs 50 min.)
Genre: YA Dystopian/YA Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)


Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City of London chases one terrified little town across the wastelands. If it cannot overpower smaller, slower prey, the city will come to a standstill and risk being taken over by another. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy, Apprentice Historian to the London Museum, is flung from its speeding superstructure into the barren wasteland of Out-Country. His only companion is Hester Shaw, a murderous, scar-faced girl who does not particularly want Tom’s company. But if they are to make it back to London, before Stalkers or hungry cities get them first, they will need to help each other, and fast. If Hester is to be believed, London is planning something atrocious, and the future of the world could be at stake. Can they get back to London before it’s too late?

My Review:

So of course after seeing the trailer for the movie I kind of wanted to read this book. The summary didn’t interest me that much when I first read about it, but the trailer was interesting and made me curious. I was happy to discover it existed as an audiobook on Hoopla and so decided to give it a try. While it had some really good world-building, it took me a long time to really find much interest in the story and the characters, and even by the end I still wasn’t all that enamoured with it overall.

Like I said, the world-building was excellent, and probably the best part of the story. It is such an interesting and unique concept that Reeve has created – the idea of cities that move and devour each other. He built it up so well to the point where they felt like animals themselves, hunting prey and fleeing from predators, even giving the airships a bit of bird-like qualities with the way people “spotted” them like bird-watchers do today. And the history that built up this world was definitely interesting as well, with enough mentions of past events to give an idea of what led to this state of humanity without making it a boring and tedious history lesson (although I wouldn’t mind more information about the 60-Minute War and other events in this timeline).

The plot itself was good, and kept the pace going well, with lots of action and movement as well as the intrigue of what the Medusa was and why it was so important. There was rarely a dull moment in the story and I do think that was done well. However, it wasn’t until about halfway through that things really started to get interesting, to me at laest. I just didn’t really feel all that connected or invested in it completely, and I think that is mostly to do with the characters.

For me, characters are the most important part of the story. And I felt the ones in this story fell a little flat. They all were somewhat two-dimensional, with character development that took too long to occur. Both Tom and Catherine were too far set in their own beliefs to really allow themselves to see the truth of things until it was too late in their respective narratives. Hester was very stubborn as well, but as she spent time with Tom, seemed to become a little calmer and more caring about him and others, and even herself, than she originally was. There was also so much going on at all times, that at points it was difficult to even really get a grasp on the characters’ themselves because they were constantly being flung from one event to the next. I guess what I am saying is, is that while there was some growth and character development there, there just wasn’t enough depth of character initially to really make me invested in their plights.

Overall, it was an okay book to listen to, and the narrator did a decent job (especially with the sound effects), but it wasn’t my absolute favorite dystopian story. I really enjoyed the world-building, but felt that the lack of depth in the characters led to my disinterest in the plot as a whole. I’m not sure if I am going to continue this series or not, but for now I will say that it does leave a lot of promise for future stories, while also wrapping enough up that I could feel content with leaving it as it is.

Beat the Backlist 2018 | Books Completed Toward Goal: 24/20

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