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Mortal Engines (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Mortal Engines (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.6 26
by Philip Reeve, BookSource Staff (Compiler)

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London is hunting

The great Traction City lumbers after a small town, eager to strip its prey of all assets and move on. Resources on the Great Hunting Ground that once was Europe are so limited that mobile cities must consume one another to survive, a practice known as Municipal Darwinism.

Tom, an apprentice in the Guild of Historians, saves


London is hunting

The great Traction City lumbers after a small town, eager to strip its prey of all assets and move on. Resources on the Great Hunting Ground that once was Europe are so limited that mobile cities must consume one another to survive, a practice known as Municipal Darwinism.

Tom, an apprentice in the Guild of Historians, saves his hero, Head Historian Thaddeus Valentine, from a murder attempt by the mysterious Hester Shaw -- only to find himself thrown from the city and stranded with Hester in the Out Country. As they struggle to follow the tracks of the city, the sinister plans of London's leaders begin to unfold ...

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
In Mortal Engines, [Reeve] has given readers of all ages an alternative world so richly, vigorously and wittily imagined that it lingers in the mind long after its supposed lessons have faded. — Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
In a dystopian future landscape, cities have uprooted themselves and donned wheels, consuming each other's resources. "Reeve's prose is sweeping and cinematic," PW said in a starred review. "He deftly weaves in social commentary on the perils of both war and consumerism." Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"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." From this intriguing opening line to its explosive ending, this fast-paced post-apocalypse science fiction is one wild ride. Most of the world was destroyed in the Sixty Minute War, and now towns and cities move around on tractor treads capturing and devouring each other. Tom has just been pushed down the London garbage chute and is left behind with a disfigured and vengeful girl as their city scurries over the horizon. Reeve takes his original idea and creates a very believable world where the action never lags. This may be what Pullman fans are waiting for. First in "The Hungry City Chronicles." 2003, EOS/HarperCollins, Ages 12 up.
— Beth Guldseth
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, November 2003: The opening line of this SF novel sets the stage beautifully: "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." It's "town-eat-town" (also known as "Municipal Darwinism") in this bleak future world, as cities on the move hunt down other cities to loot. Orphaned Tom, age 15, is a lowly Apprentice Historian (Third Class) who lives in London as it roars around on huge caterpillar tracks. His idol is the Head Historian and famous archeologist, Thaddeus Valentine; it doesn't hurt that Valentine has a beautiful young daughter, Katherine. When a strange, scarred girl named Hester shows up and tries to stab Valentine, Tom tries to save him—only to have Valentine unexpectedly fling both of them off the moving city onto the ravaged bare earth. And so Tom's adventure begins, as he and Hester search for London and for Valentine, her reason for seeking vengeance is revealed, and they encounter a kind aviatrix who is really an agent for the Anti-Traction League, a pirate suburb, and a dreadful Stalker, part-man, part-machine. Meanwhile, Katherine and a helpful young engineer do some dangerous investigating aboard London as it seeks to conquer the planet with a terrifying weapon. This wildly imaginative British tale is full of marvelous details (e.g., "Neuvo-Mayan Battle Frisbee"), humor, and grand adventures. There are echoes of the Star Wars sagas and Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as old-fashioned pirate tales. It all adds up to a wonderful if rather violent read; there are some grisly deaths. Fans of Philip Pullman's workwill love this, as will all SF and fantasy readers. (An ALA Best Book for YAs) (The Hungry City Chronicles). KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, HarperCollins, 373p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-In this futuristic page-turner, a vast, multitiered London on wheels forages the landscape and consumes smaller communities. Two young people are jettisoned from the city and must unravel a mystery to discover a deadly weapon about to be unleashed. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Reeve thinks big in this British prizewinner, envisioning a distant future in which immense mobile cities roar over continent-sized wastelands, preying on each other. Thanks to ruthless scavenger Thaddeus Valentine, London has acquired an ancient energy weapon powerful enough to overwhelm the well-defended but stationary cities of former Asia. To lowly apprentice Historian Tom Natsworthy, Valentine is a hero; Tom begins to find out differently after meeting Hester Shaw, a savagely mutilated young woman who saw Valentine murder her parents for the device. Ejected from the city as it barrels eastward, Tom and Hester encounter pirates and unexpected allies, battle an ancient cyborg warrior, and get an eye-opening look at their diverse world as they struggle to catch up. Running up the body count to staggering dimensions, the author propels his protagonists to a cataclysmic climax, folding in both instances of casual, inhuman brutality and satiric comments about "urban Darwinism." With the exception of that cyborg, the characters and societies are as uncomplicated here as the moral issues; readers who enjoy violent, titanic clashes between good and evil will be absorbed from beginning to end. First of a projected trilogy. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Hungry City Chronicles Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Philip Reevewas born in Brighton, England, and worked in a bookshop for many years before breaking out and becoming the illustrator of several highly successful children's book series in the United Kingdom. He has been writing since he was five, but Mortal Engines was his first published book. Mr. Reeve now lives on Dartmoor with his wife, Sarah, and their son, Samuel.

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Mortal Engines (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's hard to put into words how good I think this book really is. I guess the best was to describe it is by saying the acknowledgements, in which Reeve said that the book may have ended up as 'neatly typed kindling' made me wince. This book is the perfect mix of anything and everything that makes a cool book: vivid and color world, incredible imagination, unforgettable characters, a heart pumping climax, unpredictablity, and originality, something that many books nowadays lack. I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone that wants to read an incredible book that has no plot holes and takes no shortcuts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book, on book two now. . .But whats with all the exclamation points? Really gets annoying, its like everyone is always yelling. Im reading this after Hunger Games, Legend, Divergent and the Maze Runner, it falls right in the same line as being as entertaining and leaving you wanting more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book from start to finish, read as part of a children's literature course, i am 45 and loved it and getting the rest of the series. You can really see where society has gone wrong and its faults and what things could even be like in the future. Its fantasy but has portrayals of realism running through it. Can't wait to read the next one and would strongly recommend :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book! All I wish is that they had at least one illustration, showing what the cities look like.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing. Unlike every other book, where you know that the main characters will survive in the end, Mortal Engienes is much less predictable. Phillip Reeve's writing is suspenseful and thrilling, leaving readers wondering who will survive when everything is over
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
Mortal Engines was a very enjoyable book. It took me a bit to get into the story, but it held my interest till the end. I did have a slight problem with the matter of tense, though. It jumped back and forth from present to past tense, and although it was nicely separated by breaks, the whole concept of them seemed without a purpose. An exception is placing Grike's POV in present tense, as opposed to the past tense that most of the book is placed in, and this is because Grike is such a singular character, human and yet not human. It worked for me. But later on, other characters' POVs suddenly switched to present tense as well, without reason (at least it seemed to me to be without reason; I may just be oblivious). Rather than creating a special effect, the switching tense distracted me from the action and the immediacy of the story. Also distracting was the use of "you." As in, "You wouldn't guess it, but . . . ." It really took me out. As with the repetition of words. I believe there was one passage that went something like "As the burning ship fell, people burning inside . . ." It also seemed as though some of the drama and intense parts were very unnecessary . . . mainly just there to create drama and intensity. My main problem with this is the death of Bevis, who was a wonderful character (whom I wish was fleshed out more; more often than not, Reeve plants his characterization in people's perception of the character, instead of the audience getting to experience his quirks/flaws/personality themselves. But anyways, this review is getting lengthy as is, I'll drop this point for now). Why did Bevis have to die? I'm not sure I understand the purpose, other than to create needless drama that didn't change anything in the plot or any characters' decisions. It could be an easy out to kill him rather than find an ending for him after Katherine's death (which was VERY important and pivotal, and one I enjoyed . . . in a very non-sadistic way, of course). Okay, I'm returning to characterization just briefly. Reeve's infatuation with writing about someone's beauty rubbed me the wrong way. I thought it was just Tom's flaw at first, him wondering if the assassin was beautiful as he was chasing her, his huge reaction towards Katherine's beauty, his equally large reaction to Hester's ugliness, and so forth. But this continued with other characters, and it bothered me after a while. I realize I'm being very critical, because overall this book was very enjoyable to read and I'm going to run to the library tomorrow to check out the second. Reeve writing is overall nothing spectacular, but he does have some very glittering passages that tore into my heart. Especially the last bit. It helped me overall understand the story and it made it complete. It might actually be my favorite ending line I've ever read of any book: "You aren't a hero, and I'm not beautiful, and we probably won't live happily ever after," she said. "But we're alive, and together, and we're going to be all right." Beauty and perfection right there, at least to me. He had GLORIOUS passages like this that just made me shiver.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
J3v0n More than 1 year ago
Meet Tom and Hester who were recently ejected from the Mobile City London and are trying to get back on board. For Tom, London is the only life he knows. For Hester, she's obsess with getting revenge on Tom's idol, Valentine. As the story unfolds the concept of Municipal Darwinism (survival of the fittest city) is explained, Valentine's crime that left Hester disfigured is revealed, and London's secret weapon - MEDUSA- that not only threatens other Mobile Cities but people who are trying to rebuild a normal life that doesn't involve cannibalizing other cities, is unveiled. I couldn't make up my mind who I liked more, Tom or Hester. Persons reading this can identify with Tom's struggle to re-evaluate his beliefs in deciding what's good and bad after experiencing life from another perspective. Hester's mental walls gradually erode as emotions that were presume to disappear after Valentine scarred her come bubbling to the surface as she slowly takes a fancy to Tom. The supporting cast are brilliant like the charismatic public figure, Valentine, who habors a dark secret; the aviatrix, Anna Fang, who wants to stop Municipal Darwinism; the marauding pirate, Peavey, who wants to learn posh manners like a London Gentleman; or the soulless Stalker, Grike, who'll do anything to obtain his heart's desire. This was a great book with no slow parts. And as a bonus there were no Hollywood Celebs spewing racist or anti-semitic comments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
helloamericaimawsome More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing. this post apocilipt book was great. i would recommend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The world changed after the Sixty Minute War. North America was made inhabitable, cities were put on wheels, cities attacked each other, recycled each other, two leagues were formed, the Tractionist, the people who lived in cities, and the Anti-Tractionist who lived on the bear earth. London is finally coming out of the mountains to the Hunting Ground. It has been there for many generations, surviving only off of static settlements. On it lays a class three historian named Tom. Tom¿s parents were killed during the Great Tilt, when London tilted on its side and many people were crushed by falling objects, when Tom was a little boy. On the first suburb London caught on the Hunting Ground, Tom was looking for artifacts with his idle, also the lead historian, Valentine. After they were finished, Valentine and Tom went over to the refugees to see if they captured anyone important, but then a knife was drawn. The main thing I liked about the book was also the main thing I disliked about the book. The thing is, it¿s almost impossible to put down. Everything in it is exciting and interesting. If you were going to read it for ten minutes, you would end up reading it for twenty minutes, so you might not get your homework done in study hall. The only criticism I have on this book, is that you have to visualize almost all of the cities and vehicles, because if you look at the hardback cover you can see how they are indescribable. This book is one of four in The Hungry City Chronicles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was soooo great, I'm normally not the science fictiony type, but I loved this!!!! You will not be let down!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the future of Traction Cities (huge cities piled up on huge caterpillar tracks) eating other Traction Cities, a boy named Tom lives on the first Traction City, London, as a Third Class Apprentice, a really bad position to be in, to a historian. It all begins the night that London caught a small salt mining city, Salthook, and destroyed it for its resources. That night Tom and his hero/role model Thaddeus Valentine went to the bottom of the city to see what London got then came a girl that tried to kill Valentine, later running deeper into the city. Tom funs after her and then the girl falls out of the city, and tom along with her. They end up in the Outcountry, a place ruined by traction cities and where the Anti-Traction League lives and that is when the adventure begins. I really liked the book a lot, for futuristic setting, the characters, the technology, the betrayal, and the creative ideas that Philip Reeve came up with. I didn¿t have too many dislikes, but I didn¿t like parts when it would get boring very little would it do it and if I would have been a tree lover I wouldn¿t have liked it. This book is part of the series ¿The Hungry Chronicles¿. Some similar books are Predators Gold, anything really futuristic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The future is something I always like to picture. Well in this book you don¿t have to picture the future. Mortal Engines takes place in the future, year of 2100. This book has mine boggling ideas about how the future is going to turn out. The author of this book is Philip Reeve and he is a well known author. His staggering ideas will fill you mine with amazement. I can¿t relate this book to anything but I can tell you if you like die hard excitement books, READ THIS!! This book is about this boy named Tom. Tom is an Apprentice Engineer for London, which is a traction city. Traction cities are cities of the future. They roll on huge wheels, just imagine your city on wheels going hundreds mph. Well Tom meets a man named Mr. Valentine and his daughter Katherine. Mr. Valentine was very famous for finding Medusa. Medusa is a huge gun that can destroy any traction city rolling. Mr. Valentine didn¿t find it he stole it from Hester mom, and killed both of there parents in the process. Hester got away with only a huge slash mark across her face. Hester is hunting down Valentine seeking revenge. Hester jumped down a shoot and Tom followed. Hester then explains to Tom what Valentine had done. Tom and Hester join forces against the evil Valentine. The quest begins for the search for the longevity hunt after Valentine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't read Mortal Engines if you are not a high level thinker, or reader! The plot is very involved and the book is very long. It is truely a great book, and Reeve keeps you hooked until the very end! I am not a hard core reader, but this book made me want to keep reading and never stop! This book is one of the best that I have ever read! I think that everyone should read this book! Also, read the next book, Predator's Gold. It picks up where Mortal Engines left off.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was an incredibly good read. I read it in two days and I loved everything about it. And the ending went perfectly with the book, and it was simply creative beyond my own imagination.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's not hard to explain exactly why I loved this book so much. The characters were believable, the setting was original and the plot was the best I've seen for a long time. The settings were exotic and almost, strangely, believable. To me it sent a strong message about human nature... and about the dangers of technology. It was bittersweet, memorable and one of the best book's I've ever read -- and i'm a very avid reader. This is one of those you have to read to believe - it's amazing. This book is simply briliant... the detail, the characters, and the lurking sense that this happens not so far away from our lives. The style of writing reminded me of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and the book was bittersweet, memorable, and one of the best I've read, and I am a very avid reader. 5 stars!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is, to be quite honest, surreal. it has some interesting plot twists, and, a word of cution, dont become to attatched to any of the characters. this book is an amazingly well thought out imagenary world. the characters are all quite a bunch, and help play off of one another, as well as the setting. the two main characters, tom and hester, are about as different as night and day, yet they go together well. trust me, this book is not for the faint of heart. im used to blood, guts, and gore, but this was rediculus. if you are under the age of 13, i do not suggest a book like this. but if you enjoy a great group of characters and and amazing setting, as well as haveing a strong stomach, this is truly a wonderful book, and i would highly suggest it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Sixty Minute War ended western civilization leading to a new world order. The great cities do not reside in one place, but instead are mobile like Roman legions assaulting smaller locations. London has been reduced to one of these prowling giants, but recently concern has surfaced that with a lessening of prey among the midgets, other mega-metropolises will try to devour the big city.

As London chases after Salthook, fifteen years old apprentice historian Tom toils at what all rookies do. He cleans in his case the exhibits of the London Museum of Natural History. However, Tom¿s world changes when he rescues his hero, scavenger turned renowned archeologist Thaddeus Valentine from an assassination attempt. Tom¿s reward is apropos for an apprentice as he and the avenging assassin Hester Shaw are tossed out of the city into the vast wilderness. He learns from her why as she explains her connection to Valentine and the mayor. They team up to survive as Hester and Tom begin a series of adventures to stay alive.

Though classified as a children¿s fantasy, this complex tale can be enjoyed as a straightforward tale that young readers will appreciate or as a satire that adults will treasure. The characters are complex as Philip Reeve paints a picture that what is acceptable under certain conditions seems cruel under others as values are not quite as universal as we westerners would like to believe. MORTAL ENGINES is a winner for children and adults of all ages.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
Fabulously engaging. It is what one should read before beginning on P. Pullman's Dark Materials.