Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines Philip Reeve Movie Poster

It took me till near the end of the book to decide if I liked Mortal Engines. The start of the story is a little young and I may have enjoyed more if I’d read as a young adult. Though it does pick up after the first few chapters and the world building is very cool. I loved the steampunk feel and the premise is so interesting with the idea of cities eating each other. Mortal Engines is original, imaginative and extrememly clever. A quick read with plenty of action and interesting characters.

I loved how we were introduced to London first as a charcter. London felt so vibrant and interesting and we really felt Tom’s loyalty and love for London as his home. It was nice to read a book where the characters are defined by their choices and abilities rather than age.

Ultimately though only Katherine evolves as a character. Though simplified her disalusionment towards her father felt gradual and meaningful. Tom proves himself to be a morally complex character and I enjoyed his thoughtfulness in the loss of his hero.

I found it really interesting how the characters struggled with their moral code. By allowing others to get hurt in order to preserve themselves and their mission. It’s something you don’t normally see and shows just how difficult it can be. Reeve explores what it means to be a hero – and shows that even bad guys can do good things.

I really loved the premise and while the writing style is traditional it doesn’t come across too flowery. The story itself was a definitely a little dark in a good way! The violence in the last few chapters is a little more descriptive than you would expect it to be in a YA. Which is partly why I think Mortal Engines would have been better as an adult fantasy? Reeve accounts for the actuality of heroics and ensures that there are realistic sacrifices for the characters.

I would definitely recommend to young adult readers – especially those who like an adventure! It was refreshing not to have everything work out perfectly and I really enjoyed the historical/science fiction elements. Similar to Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials or Artemis Fowl – both excellent reads! Check out my Book of Dust review here.


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: “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.

Mortal Engines Philip Reeve Movie Poster

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