[Darwinism: survival of the fittest]
You'll need to familiarise yourself with the theory of Municipal Darwinism for this brilliant book. The first thing you need to know is that it is a town eat town world, out there in the Great Hunting Ground:
The little town was so close that he could see the ant-like shapes of people running about on its upper tiers. How frightened they must be, with London bearing down on them and nowhere to hide! But he knew he mustn't feel sorry for them: it was natural that cities ate towns, just as the towns ate smaller towns, and smaller towns snapped up the miserable static settlements. That was Municipal Darwinism, and it was the way the world had worked for a thousand years, ever since the great engineer Nikolas Quirke had turned London into the first Traction City. "London! London!" he shouted, adding his voice to the cheers and shouts of everybody else on the platform, and a moment later they were rewarded by the sight of one of Salthook's wheels breaking loose. The town slewed to a halt, smokestacks snapping off and crashing down into the panicked streets, and then London's lower tiers blocked it from view and Tom felt the deck-plates shiver as the city's huge hydraulic Jaws came slamming shut.
Now, it may be a vast, sophisticated city, but London is cobbled together from bits of scrap metal and Old-Tech. Some of the scavenged Old-Tech goes straight to the Guild of Historians to be preserved, and some goes to the powerful Guild of Engineers. Sometimes the Engineers can work out how to recreate the old technology from their bits and pieces, and sometimes they can't.
This story is about what happens when Valentine the Explorer brings back to London a malignant piece of Old-Tech, known as Medusa. The thing is, if London really proposes to recreate an ancient weapon of mass destruction, then mass destruction is going to be one of the inevitable consequences. So Valentine finds he has quite a few enemies. For a start, there is the grossly disfigured Hester Shaw, whose parents he killed in his quest to obtain possession of Medusa:
A terrible scar ran down her face from forehead to jaw, making it look like a portrait that had been furiously crossed out. Her mouth was wrenched sideways in a permanent sneer, her nose was a smashed stump and her single eye stared at him out of the wreckage, as grey and chill as a winter sea.
And there is Tom, Third Class Apprentice of the Guild of Historians. He just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Valentine pushes him down the waste chute after Hester Shaw because he fears he knows too much about Hester Shaw. But neither Tom nor Hester Shaw are killed by their fall down the waste chute. They land in the soft mud of the Out-Country, and so begins an uneasy alliance, which gradually firms up into friendship, and even something more.
There's a lot about loyalty and trust in this wild and dangerous story. You might find the landscape of massive, trundling cities faintly amusing, but if you happen to turn round and look behind you while you are reading, you will see the dead bodies piling up at an alarming rate! Highly enjoyable! Highly recommended!
Neokid, boy, age 12, from london, United Kingdom, on 3rd November 2008. Rating: 10/10
The story I am writing this review on is called Mortal Engines written by Philip Reeve. The main story is that a town takes over another town by eating and this is set in different areas of land hundred years in the future. There are six main characters, three children and three adults. The children are Tom, Hester, . This all starts of with the child who lives in London and is an orphan and worked for the fourth tier since he had no-one to pay for him to join first tier. As you would imagine a low class worker was not given much importance to. He was bullied by a person named who worked in the first tier. He used to mock and take the mickie out of him. One day he saw a girl named who he liked at first sight. Then there was an incident involving a girl who had a long scar across he face she was yelling “kill him, kill him.” Everyone was wondering why and while walking back she took a knife and threatened while walking back nearly fell. Tom ran to save her he caught her hand but fell with her down a hole. I wouldn’t like to explain in detail since there is a lot and cannot be fit into one page but they were helped by who took them to her homeland to help them. Then tom and Hester found out medusa which was going to blow up hometown. Then they all travelled through many dangers to reach London and try to stop them.
Ruth, girl, age 17, from Hampshire, United Kingdom, on 27th June 2007. Rating: 10/10
This book is absolutely amazing! I first read it about 4 years ago and have often picked it up since. It's the sort of book that will just live forever. The dialogue is fantastic and the action is fast-paced and constantly exciting. Not only that but the characters are easy to identify with, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried at the end. If only all books were like this and literature would never be dull!
Chris Peacock, boy, age 14, from Tokelau, Tokelau, on 8th June 2007. Rating: 10/10
This is a very good book to read, as it is very idealistic and has some very interesting thoughts in the future. However, only mature readers will be able to understand what really goes on. After you read the whole set, you read them again to get the full grasp of the dramatic irony used. Fully recommended.
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A brilliant first book, and now there is an equally brilliant sequel:
If you enjoy Mortal Engines, you might like to look at the trilogy by William Nicholson known as The Wind On Fire. In the first volume you will come across massive land-sailing towns, rather like Philip Reeve's traction cities:
If the themes of loyalty and betrayal catch your imagination in Mortal Engines, you might like to look at this one by Robin Jarvis:
The real point about Mortal Engines is that the story is set in a fantasy landscape but played out by people with real emotions. So, you might like to look at something by J R R Tolkien:
Or you could have a look at Philip Pullman's trilogy known as His Dark Materials: