Review: Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

10 March 2023
Infernal Devices, the third book in Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines Quartet, is a gripping and thrilling novel set in a dystopian world where mobile cities roam the earth, preying on smaller towns for resources. 

Reeve's world-building skills are superb, and he has created a vivid and convincing world, populated by fascinating characters who are constantly surprising the reader with their actions. The descriptions of the mobile cities and the wasteland they roam are vivid and immersive, transporting the reader to this post-apocalyptic world. The story's plot is well-paced and engaging, and Reeve has a talent for creating tension and suspense that keeps the reader hooked until the very end.

At the core of Infernal Devices is a story about the consequences of revenge and the power of forgiveness. The main characters, Tom and Hester, are forced to confront their past and reconcile with their mistakes. 

Through their journey, readers witness their growth and development as individuals. Tom's character arc is particularly noteworthy, as he begins the story as a naive and idealistic young man out for revenge against his father's killer. However, as the story progresses, he realizes that revenge is not the answer and that forgiveness is the only way to move on. This realization is a powerful moment in the story and highlights Reeve's skill in creating complex and relatable characters.

infernal devices ian mcque cover
Note the lonely, Gollemsqe, Shrike

Similarly, Hester's character development is also well-executed. She is haunted by her past and her actions in Predator's Gold. Her journey in Infernal Devices is one of redemption, as she comes to terms with her past and seeks to make amends for her mistakes. Through Hester's journey, Reeve explores the themes of guilt and forgiveness, showcasing how forgiveness can be a powerful tool for healing.

Infernal Devices explores several other themes, including the dangers of technology and the consequences of war. 

Reeve's skillful world-building allows him to create a world where technology has become a force of destruction, with the mobile cities representing the ultimate weapon of war. Through this portrayal, Reeve highlights the dangers of unchecked technological advancement and the importance of responsibility in its use. Additionally, the novel's exploration of the consequences of war is a powerful commentary on the futility of violence and the human cost of conflict.

Throughout the novel, the Shrike is a constant presence, lurking in the shadows and appearing at unexpected moments. Its (his?) continued pursuit of Tom and Hester creates a sense of tension and danger, adding to the novel's overall atmosphere of suspense. However, as the story progresses, the Shrike's motivations become clearer, and its role in the larger narrative is revealed.

Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

The novel's success is a testament to Reeve's skill as an author. The Guardian praised his ability to create complex and convincing characters, stating that "Reeve's characters are real people with flaws and complexities that make them feel authentic and relatable." Similarly, The Independent praised Reeve's ability to create a thrilling and engaging story, stating that "Infernal Devices is a fantastic adventure story with thrilling action sequences and vivid descriptions."

Infernal Devices has been shortlisted for several awards, including the Whitbread Children's Book Award in 2003, and it won the Nestle Children's Book Prize Gold Award in the same year. The novel's critical and commercial success cemented Reeve's reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative authors in the YA fantasy genre.

In interviews, Reeve has spoken about his inspiration for the Mortal Engines Quartet. He cites his love of science fiction and his interest in history as major influences on his writing. He has also discussed his desire to create a complex and morally ambiguous world, where characters are not simply good or evil. Reeve's commitment to crafting a nuanced and multi-layered world is evident in Infernal Devices, where the characters and themes are rich and multifaceted.

Overall, Infernal Devices is a thrilling and thought-provoking novel that showcases Reeve's talent as an author. The novel's exploration of complex themes and its well-developed characters make it a must-read for fans of the YA fantasy genre. The Mortal Engines Quartet as a whole is a masterpiece of world-building and storytelling, and Infernal Devices is a standout addition to the series. 

Reeve's ability to craft a post-apocalyptic world where technology has gone awry and humanity has turned on itself is impressive, and his exploration of themes like revenge, forgiveness, and the dangers of technology adds depth and complexity to the story.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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