Carnivorous Cities in Mortal Engines || SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve


Mortal Engines.jpg

Genre: Sci-Fi (Steampunk), Young Adult
Author: Philip Reeve
Published: November 2001
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 336 {paperback}

Review on Goodreads

Initial Thoughts upon Finishing

This was awesome and something so different to most other books out there. The audiobook experience was top notch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed this book ten times more than I had been anticipating! It’s so unique and full of adventure and complex characters. If you haven’t already read this, then you must.

Mortal Engines

If you’re anything like me you’ve heard of this book before – a modern classic dare I say? – but you’ve never quite got around to picking it up. And then they made a movie of it so, naturally, you felt obliged to read it (so you don’t have to embarrassingly tell your non-bookish friends who’ve seen the movie and asked what the book is like, that you haven’t actually seen it).

And you know what? This was most certainly worth the read. I had quite the peculiar concept in my mind of what this book was about before reading it and I was at least 74.6% wrong. This book is funny, delightful, vicious and reminded me strongly of J.K. Rowling’s writing style. All ticks in the boxes, no?

Anyway, the story follows a young boy called Tom and a girl called Hesta and together: THEY ARE INVINCIBLE! Alas, no. They are not. Really, they are very vincible. Tom lives on London (‘on’ being the correct preposition). London has wheels, it rolls around like a gigantic, hard-to-imagine steampunk machine of glory, eating – yes, eating – smaller cities for their parts.

This is post-modern times after we apparently destroyed the world in a 60-minute war. How did these people survive? I have no idea. The book throws Tom on an unexpected adventure (quite literally) and he and Hesta battle through the scrabbly world of their day trying to find friends, the truth and a comfortable bed.

We have resurrected people who are half-robot stalking down our heroes, we have a madman at the helm of London determined to eat the biggest city left standing (which happens to be an old fashioned one that is on the ground, not driving around) and we have a dog which is actually a wolf – and probably the highlight of the book.

Why It’s So Enjoyable

This is enjoyable for the simple reason that it’s fun. The characters are relatable; I particularly liked the extremities of Hesta’s mood swings. The plot is twisty, turny and full of pollution (I have no idea what that means but let’s roll with it – GASP, the puns). The landscape is almost unimaginable it’s so crazy and there’s so much room to build this up in your own way.

Coming out of this book I am very expectant that I will now watch the movie in horror as it destroys the very fundamental values (can books have values in that sense???) that make this book so page-turner-y and GOOD. Because I simply cannot imagine this on-screen.

The Audiobook Experience

IT WAS FANTASTIC. If you are a fan of Stephen Fry’s narrations of audiobooks (such as Harry Potter) or of the audios for Outlander and Good Omens then I think you’ll like the style of this one. The narrative did a fantastic job of it and made it really feel like an exciting book club meeting when someone was doing a top job of story-telling.


If you haven’t got the point by now: you should definitely read this. So stop putting this one off and go pick it up, it’s not long and it’s a lot of fun. I’m simply hopping in my seat in anticipation of diving into the sequels and – OH BOY – I’m glad there is more to come from this world. I’m so excited I’m practically mad.

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Happy Reading

~~ Kirstie ~~



6 thoughts on “Carnivorous Cities in Mortal Engines || SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

  1. Great review. I read the book after watching the movie, and I really liked the idea and the fact that the first part of the series is practically a stand-alone novel. Will probably at some point read the other parts as well.
    and yea, the “polluted action” – I see what you mean 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I think that the movie sort of played on our need for a good guy, and our need for big heroes. The weapon part at the end of the movie was a bit like a caricature, but all in all it was ok.

        Liked by 1 person

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