REVIEW: "Mortal Engines", by Philip Reeve.

One of my favourite things about being an English teacher is that I get to host my two writing clubs: Scribblers and Ink. My favourite days are those when I get to spend time with some promising writers of the future!

As is often the case, the youth of today has such discerning taste. When I asked them to recommend to me their favourite YA dystopian books, one of them (a guy who I'm fairly sure is going to take over the world some day... so, needless to say, he cracks me up) suggested that I try out Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series.

Now, my reading list is ridiculously long. I have a bazillion books which I've been meaning to read for an age or so. So every time one of my writers asked if I had got around to reading Mortal Engines, I kept having to apologise and promise that I'd do so as soon as possible.

I was very touched when the group decided to buy me the four books in the series as a gift! I know, how lovely!

So, with no excuses left and an honest desire to make my writers smile, I set about reading the first in the series and what an interesting read! I have been in love with dystopian writing ever since reading Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, back in school. (This is an awesome short story and you all need to read it. Spectacular!)

Mortal Engines is both an inspiringly unique read, while it also reminded me of one of my favourite PS games: Final Fantasy VII. I suppose, by that, I mean to say that I've never seen anything so hugely original within 200ish pages, while games like Final Fantasy VII have 70+ hours to sell their imaginary worlds to your senses. Reeve was brave to endeavour to do the same, and tremendously successful in doing so.

You would think that in order to create this original dystopia, Reeve would have to rely somewhat on clich├ęs and archetypes. But he doesn't. The book's protagonist, Tom, is not a hero. Tom's best friend and the girl he seems (so far - only on book one!) to be falling for, Hester, is described as hideous more than once. She is no damsel in distress, no beautiful maiden in need of rescuing. Even the antagonist, Mr. Valentine, is a character who you can understand and empathise with to a degree. Reeve takes convention, and turns it on its head in Mortal Engines. 

I can't wait to get on to reading the rest of the books in the series. So far Reeve's writing has been daring and original. But more than that, I can finally tell my writers what I thought of their recommendation: Utterly fantastic!



  1. I do love Philip Reeve and the Mortal Engines Quartet. I am really glad that someone suggested them to you. The world he creates just seems so fleshed out, with so few pages, along with a great love of the characters in the book.
    I am happy to say that as the series goes on, the characters grow on you even more. I truly hope that you enjoy the rest of the series.

    Now where did I put my set...

  2. Glad to hear that it just gets better! They really were an excellent recommendation by my writers. So! Algernon, whoever you may be, how are you enjoying the blog? =P

  3. Ahhh I'm enjoying the blog, whoever I may be. Its always good to read book reviews and such. As well as see people pretending to be a modern day pirate :P

  4. I wasn't pretending. I AM a pirate! Arrrrrrrrrr...

  5. Then where is your pirate ship and booty ?

  6. Alas, me hearty... Me ship is yonder in the port (It's the KA in the parking space). As for me booty... tis somewhat scarce in these times o' trouble.

  7. Ahh well at least ye ship, not be Pink ( as is my car :()

  8. Ahhh Algernon. Ye be a lad if ye hold pink in disdain...? Or a lass if ye have a pink vessel...?

    Sayin' that... I be of the fairer sex an' I not be wantin' me a pink car!

  9. Weeeeeel, of course Algernon be a lad. The vessel be nothin' to do with whether I be of the fairer sex.

    I don't think that 'nybody wants to be ownin' a pink vessel...

  10. ...have now turned "pink vessel" into a euphemism. Hahahahahaha!


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