Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mortal Engines

 Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

 Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile know what a huge fan I am of Philip Reeve, the author of the Larklight books. Not only is a great author who created the wonderful world of space pirates and outerspace houses, but he is also very nice. He takes time to answer emails from his fans - and gave me some pointers when I was first publishing.

 Anyways, Mr. Reeve might not be a very well known author, but out of everything he's written, he is most known for his Mortal Engines books. I've had these on my to-read list for a long time but finally began it when my library FINALLY got the first book in.

 The first book is called Mortal Engines and is about a boy named Tom Natsworthy. Tom lives in London, England, but it isn't the London we all known. In Tom's world the cities movie - steam powered - and they eat each other, using the parts they eat to fuel their own cities.

 Tom is an apprentice and works in a museum. He's an orphan from a lower part of London and is therefore looked down upon by many. However, one day he meets Valentine a daring, adventuring Archaeologist. He also meets his daughter Kathrine, a pretty, sweet girl who owns a pet wolf.
 For the first time in Tom's life things start to look better when these two take a liking to him. But this all changes when a strange girl shows up and tries to kill Valentine. Tom saves his life, but in doing so falls out of the city and to the world below. Now he is trapped down there with the bitter Hester Shaw - the girl who tried to kill Valentine. They have to work together if they ever hope to reach London alive - but working with Hester is easier said then done.

 I didn't think I'd ever like any of Mr. Reeve's books as much as I like the Larklight ones. Then I read Fever Crumb and he proved me wrong. Well, he has done so again.

 I don't really like future books, though the genre is growing on me, but this one was so different I was instantly drawn into the world.
 What I enjoy most about Mr. Reeve's books is that he doesn't waste time going into a ton of detail about what his new worlds look like. Instead he does what I like to think of as the Doctor Who introduction. He grabs your hand, pulls you in, and the next thing you know you're running for you life and experiencing his world as you try to survive. This book isn't bogged down with descriptions. Instead, I felt like I was there with Tom and Hester.

 Another thing I love are his characters. Again, he doesn't go into a lot of detail. (But I'm starting to think this is a British author trait. J.K. Rowling did the same thing. The characters might seem flat compared to other books, but I've noticed he just doesn't waste time with the, "he likes this and this and hate this and this." Instead, I got to KNOW the characters through their actions. I wasn't told about Tom's sense of justice, instead, I watched it when he got angry about people lying and using others for their own gain.)
 And speaking of Tom. It didn't take me long to fall in love with this quiet, homesick boy.
 I really dislike, how in books or movies, the hero always falls in love with the pretty girl and befriends the ordinary girl. And at first I thought Tom was going to be the same way. Kathrine is lovely, and when Tom sees her he likes her. And at first I thought it was for her looks. But then he met Hester.

 Hester has a hideous scar on her face. She lost one eye, her nose is all but gone, and her mouth is twisted. And when Tom sees her I expected him to turn away in disgust. Instead, Tom isn't really bothered by her looks, and he soon becomes fond of her twisted smile and is sad whenever she covers it up. He tries to become her friend, even when she does everything she can to make him hate her. He is nice to her and never turns away from her face like others do.
 And that is when I made a discovery about Tom that caused me to like him all the more.

 Tom didn't love Kathrine because of her looks, nor did he become "just friends" with Hester because of hers. Instead, Tom is one of the few characters who look past looks and sees what people are really like. In Kathrine he saw a sweet, kind girl who cared about others. In Hester, he saw her bitterness and hate, but he also saw the side of her she kept hidden. The side which liked to smile and laugh and have fun with her friends. (And then something cool happens, but that is all spoilers, so go read the book.)

 In fact, if I had any complaint about this book it would be that it was written by a British man. (And by that I mean he has the Moffat style.) He likes to kill characters you grow to love. I think it is a British pastime. (Doubt me? J.K Rowling. Brain Jaques. C. S. Lewis. And Tolkien also did his fair share of killing beloved characters. And of course, Moffat.) Maybe it's payback for loosing the war. No idea, but after one death I spent the rest of the day sulking. It was very cruel.

 Oh yes, and there were also airships in the book. (I had to throw that out because airships are cool and always make stories better.)

 I have read the second book in this series and didn't enjoy it as much as the first. There was a scene in it between Tom and Hester, and while nothing is described, it bothered me. I may read the other books, but it isn't likely. I want to remember Tom and Hester as they were in this book.

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