Published by Harper Collins US UK on September 1, 2004
"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 has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold.
Thaddeus Valentine, London's Head Historian and adored famous archaeologist, and his lovely daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes toward his heart, saved by the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice. 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 a painful dangerous unforgettable adventure story of surprises, set in a dark and utterly original world fueled by Municipal Darwinism -- and betrayal.
I have to say I don’t think I will be carrying on with this series. It wasn’t my favourite and I honestly don’t see what the hype is if I’m honest. I didn’t think the characters and the plot line was overly developed and I had so many questions by the end of it, and none of them were answered. I know that there are other books in the series but there was definitely no closure whatsoever and I don’t actually know what the point of the story was by the end. However there was no real need for me to read the next in the series, it was a filler book without actually telling me anything.
I know there is some explanation as to why the cities are now roaming around the “hunting ground” but for me it was a little wishy washy and it really didn’t help me with connecting with the story and the characters. I don’t actually know what kept me reading this book, purely because I didn’t like the premise and I didn’t connect with the characters. Everything was all over the place and there wasn’t an awful lot that I could actually keep up with. I would have loved more development of the characters, the world and the reasons everything is happening.
One of my biggest bugbears with this story was the characters, and this goes back to the fact that there was literally no development of anything. None of the backstories made much sense, I didn’t learn enough about them to sympathise with their situation or care about why they were doing what they were doing. It made the book incredibly hard to read and enjoy. I was hoping that although I didn’t understand the world that the characters would offer something worthwhile. Spoiler alert, they didn’t, in fact if they had all died at the end I wouldn’t have cared.
I also didn’t feel any kind of threat throughout the book, I know that there was a “bad guy” but that again was really wishy-washy and there wasn’t actually any threat that I felt. There was no fear and I definitely didn’t feel any suspense when it came down to it. Plus the ‘defeats’ were very anti-climatic and I just wanted a little more drama, a little more of a fight, but everything seemed to fall into place a little too easy. I just wanted more suffering and more angst, and I don’t say that very often.
I wouldn’t recommend this series, or this book. I don’t think the world is developed and the characters aren’t well written and I definitely think there was so much more that should have been done with the premise and concept.
Have you ever read an overhyped book that has completely fallen flat? Let me know what you thought of Mortal Engines in the comments!
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