Mortal Engines: A Fantastical Must Read Odyssey Essay

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

So I wanted to read something really inventive and new. I’m tired of generic fantasy books, so I went online searching for something that had good imagination behind it and I finally found a nutty sounding little book called Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve.

What is it about? The book takes place sometime in the future long after the sixty minute war. This has left much of the world as a wasteland and in Europe, the way of life evolved into something on the Snowpiercer level of strange. Cities are mobile and on the move so they can gather the rare resources, but not all play by those rules. Larger cities are destroying smaller ones taking all of their resources leaving their residents to their own devices in the wasteland.

The story follows Tom, who is an eleven year old living in London, one of the biggest city that thrives off of destroying smaller cities and towns. One day, London devours a town and one of supposed residents, a girl with a horrifically mangled face, tries to kill Tom’s idol John Valentine. Tom tries to prove himself to him and his beautiful daughter by catching the girl for him. She falls off the city, but not before telling him her name. But because he heard her name, Valentine throws him off of the city as well, to presumably send him to his death.

Tom and the girl, Hester, survives. And they have to trek together on an odyssey of a very strange world. Tom just wants to go home. Hester wants revenge for her family. They both have hard lessons to learn considering their world views and end up having to stop London as the mayor is leading the city on a plan that could destroy thousands of peaceful static people beyond Europe.

So the good? The story is so imaginative. This is a world unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The story is great. The character of Hester Shaw is one of the most unique stories I have ever seen in a novel. And there are no slow points. The story is always moving with tons of well-paced action.

The bad? There’s so much great about this book, it hard to find complains. But there is one thing I could mention. One of the two villains is a bit cartoony. There’s a point in the book where’s he’s explaining his plan and explains how after all the resources on Earth are consumed by London, London will build rockets a, fly to the moon eat all their resources and then Mars and the Venus. It really is a laugh out loud moment that makes him seem more silly than sinister.

Overall, this is one of the best books. I’ve read in years. It’s just so imaginative, original and fun. This is on the same level of quality as the “His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman and “The Dark Tower” series by Stephen King. It really is a must read. So go read it!