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Welcome, friend! Relax & rest awhile, if you please. I'm an ordinary girl, a follower of Christ, mama to Gabriel, & wife to Evan. Here in this little space of the online world, I share all manner of bookish things, including full content reviews, writerly snippets, encouragement for everyday life, and a whole collection of names & their meanings.

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Book Review || Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines
(Mortal Engines Quartet #1)
Philip Reeve

Scholastic | July 5th, 2018
Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Fiction

London is a city on wheels - a future city like you've never known before. In the terrible aftermath of the Sixty Minute War, cities which survived the apocalypse became predators, chasing and feeding on smaller towns. Now London is hunting down its prey, getting ready to feed. But as the chase begins, Tom uncovers a secret - a secret full of deadly consequences. Soon he is plunged into a world of unkillable enemies, threatened by a weapon that will tear his life apart...

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WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

[The Basics]
To be honest, I watched the film adaption before reading the book. . . I liked the movie---didn't love it---but I thought it entertaining, though it could have been soooo much better.  The CGI was AMAZING & the story had incredible potential.  But the characters were kinda. . . lacking.

While the film doesn't follow the book to the 't'---surprise surprise!---I think the differing elements in the movie fit better than how they were in the book.  For instance, our MC Tom (a Historian apprentice) was only 15 years old in the book, whereas he was portrayed as maybe two to three years older in the movie.  Also, Tom's character in the book was whiny & tearful almost constantly, I felt I had no connection to him, or Hester for that matter, whatsoever.  And to me, it's important for your readers to actually like the main characters.  Right??

Anyways, the futuristic idea of ginormous (and not so ginormous) cities on great tracks roaming the wastes of the Earth & devouring one another for scraps & parts & the like is such a fantastic idea.  The story-world & all the world-building elements made up for the poorly-developed characters, in my opinion.  And would probably be the only reason I would pick up the sequel---IF I happened to find it somewhere at a CHEAP bargain price, that is.  Has anyone read these, perchance??

Overall, I enjoyed the movie better than the book & thought the film's ending a MUCH better resolution in comparison.  There's still elements in the movie that are incredible iffy because it seems they focused more on the visual effects instead of honing & fleshing out a couple characters (like the book should've done, but focused more on world-building---which was awesome), but anyways.  I digress.  :]

[Spiritual Content]
Our story begins on the great track city of London.  And there we learn of all the many gods the people of this Earth & the cities remaining worship.  There's Clio, goddess of History; Sooty Pete, god of the engine rooms & smokestacks; and many others.  People pay respects to these gods & pray for blessings.  Nikolas Quirke, the famous founder & maker of London's traction city (the one who made it move), was declared a god ages ago.  London characters use his name often in exclamation.

Upon death, there's a mention of the souls of the dead going to the Sunless Country---which seems the opposite of heaven. . . (The author does not give much hope after death to his characters, which, along with all the gods & idols, made me think he's searching for some kind of spiritual peace himself.)

The Resurrected Men, creatures of little flesh & mostly machine, were once regular men, whose bodies were taken after death & experimented & made into merciless machines, bounty hunters.  Three pirates are decapitated by Shrike, one of the Resurrected.

Lots & lots of blood & gore.  High body count.  A girl has a horribly scarred face, and is even missing an eye; parents murdered in cold blood.  A boy's broken body is seen at one point.  Towns eat towns, and survivors are taken for slave trade or mercilessly killed then & there (in order to save on food & lodging).

An entire traction city & its people is obliterated into nothing by one blast of a seriously powerful weapon.  An airship port is badly damaged & seeks refuge for repairs.  Some airships crash land.

A pirate mayor of a traction suburb, takes his town into the waters because measures were taken to keep it afloat, but things go awry, and it begins to sink taking with it those who can't escape.  The pirate mayor flees in a raft with some of his crew, leaving his own children to drown (we hear screams).  Those who escape out of the sinking suburb try to get into the raft only to be beaten away or shot so that the water turns red. . .

[Some Negatives]
At one point, Tom wets his pants.  In one section of a great city, there are enormous tanks of human refuse (referred to by the workers as 'turd tanks'), where an experimental prison is inventing ways to reuse the stuff thanks to the shortage of food & rations all over the city.  (That's why these towns devour one another---for their resources.)  The authorities over the tanks explain their desire to recycle the waste and use it for fuel and even turn it into a "tasty & nutritious snack"---they feed it to the prisoners, but "unfortunately, they keep dying."  A man nearly drowns in the muck. . . (he later dies anyway).

A pirate treats his daughter & other children poorly, shouting at her & ordering her to do things, then shoving her around to get to it.

[Language // Alcohol & Drugs]
Words & phrases used like "What in Quirke's name?" and "great Quirke!".  At least one use of "d----d", and "blimey".  Maybe another of the English slang "bloody."

The airship port in the sky, Airhaven, is home to all kinds of folk who roam the skies.  There's at least one tavern we visit with the usual drinks.  Other characters consume some form of alcohol or other at celebrations or something.  Don't recall much more.

[Romantic Content]
None.  Tom comes to see Hester as a friend, someone he cares for.  And they sail off in an airship together in the end, but nothing romantic happens. 

All told, this story has AMAZING potential.  I think both the book and the film adaptation could have been SO MUCH BETTER.  Like I mentioned earlier, the movie's ending was great compared to the book.  The characters in the book seemed so very callous after what just took place, whereas in the film there was genuine apology & forgiveness to those who had nothing to do with London's wicked weapon.

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Ages: 16+

Definitely not a book I'll be picking up again, unfortunately.
Have you read any of these?  If so, let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Yeah, I share the same thoughts as you on this one. I haven’t watched the movie, though - maybe I should, since you say it’s better!

    I actually did read the second book. I thought it was slightly better than the first (but Hester in particular seemed kind of petty in it). I don’t know. I mean, it still wasn’t the best book ever. *shrugs*

    I got bored on book 3, so I stopped. XD I mean, I got the books for free, though, so no regrets.

    1. It certainly was better, but there was still much that could have made it awesome, if you know what I mean. Some characters were just extremely shallow---I liked how Anna Fang was portrayed in the book better, for instance. And Bevis was hardly a character in the film---he should've played a much bigger part, in my opinion! But anyways, still a bit better than book & the visual effects were INCREDIBLE.

      Yes, "petty" describes what I thought of the characters in the first! Thanks for your opinions, Nicole! I love hearing what others think. I still really have no desire to continue the series. But that's awesome you got them for free. :D

  2. Aw man. That's a shame this one is pretty meh. The premise sounds AMAZING and I actually quite liked the movie. I was hoping to try the book sometime, and probably still will (if I find it somewhere cheap at a thrift shop, like you said about the sequel ;D), but that makes me sad the worldbuilding took over the plot. I mean, if you don't have great characters to root for, what's the point?

    Thank you for the great review!

    1. I know! It really is a shame. I agree, the movie was quite entertaining! If you do, I'd love to hear what you think! YESSSS. The characters play such a huge part in stories, but there needs to be a balance of every element in books.

      Thanks, girl!

  3. That's so interesting that the film did a lot more things right than the book! How disappointing that the characters were lacking in both though. :( I was thinking of giving this book a try, but I really need to connect to characters to enjoy a read, so we'll see. Thanks for the review!

    1. I know! That doesn't happen too often. Characters are so very necessary, I was a little disappointed, but the world-building was awesome! So, if you DO read it, maybe read it at least for that. ;D

  4. I'm so glad you wrote this review! I've been curious about the Mortal Engines ever since I watched the trailer, but I didn't know anything about it and wasn't sure if it was worth my time. After reading this, I'll probably not read it. I mean, the world building did seem awesome, but that's usually the last thing I care about in a story. I much prefer having a good theme in place.

    But, again, I'm so thankful for this review! Great work!

    1. My pleasure! I feel like other readers are like myself in that they are wary of some books due to content & language, but can't really find any reviews explaining what to expect... That's why I write such thorough reviews! heheh I don't want my reviews like this to deter others from at least trying the books, though.

      Thanks, girl! So glad this is helpful to you. *^ - ^*


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