Review Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

10 March 2023
"Mortal Engines" by Philip Reeve is a young adult dystopian novel that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. The book was first published in 2001 and is the first in the "Mortal Engines Quartet" series.

The novel's protagonist is Tom Natsworthy, an apprentice Historian living in London, one of the largest mobile traction cities left in the world. The story follows Tom as he is thrown out of London by the city's power-hungry ruler, and he finds himself in the company of Hester Shaw, a mysterious and scarred girl who seeks revenge on London's leader for the murder of her parents. Together they travel across the wasteland, encountering various dangers, as they try to uncover the truth behind the evil plans of London and its leaders.

mortal engines book cover

One of the most significant themes explored in "Mortal Engines" is the concept of Municipal Darwinism.

In this world, cities have become mobile machines, and the stronger ones consume smaller, weaker towns and cities to survive. Municipal Darwinism is a fascinating concept that Reeve explores in-depth. The idea of cities being like animals, evolving to become stronger and more powerful, is unique and imaginative.

The concept of Municipal Darwinism has been widely discussed and analyzed by reviewers, as it is a unique and fascinating concept. Many reviewers have compared the concept to the movie "Mad Max," as it shares similar themes of a post-apocalyptic world where cities roam the earth like predators. Reeve's world-building is praised for its detail, and the characters are well-developed. However, some reviewers have criticized the book's pacing, finding it slow at times, and it can be challenging to get into the story.

hester shaw strike mortal engines

The book's exploration of power and corruption is also essential, as the characters struggle to maintain control over others.

"Mortal Engines" has won several awards, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 2001, the Nestlé Children's Book Prize in 2002, and the California Young Reader Medal in 2005. The book's awards and critical acclaim are well-deserved, as Reeve's world-building and exploration of themes are fantastic. The book has been adapted into a movie of the same name, which was released in 2018. The film's release has renewed interest in the book and has introduced new readers to Reeve's imaginative world.

In conclusion, "Mortal Engines" by Philip Reeve is an engaging and thought-provoking novel that explores complex themes and concepts, such as Municipal Darwinism and power dynamics.

The book's unique and imaginative world-building has earned it critical acclaim and numerous awards, making it a must-read for fans of dystopian literature. While some reviewers have criticized the book's pacing, its strengths, such as the concept of Municipal Darwinism and character development, make it a compelling read. 

The book's awards and critical acclaim have cemented its status as a modern classic, and the movie adaptation has introduced new audiences to Reeve's imaginative world.


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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.

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