Mortal Engines is set in a steampunk world, trampled by moving cities. Following Darwin’s basic theories of animal eat animal, or in this case ‘city eat city’. Its protagonist: Tom, has his world shattered when he sees a hooded assassin attack his hero Thaddeus Valentine. Desperately wanting to be recognised by Valentine, Tom gives chase after the assassin. The attempted killer reveals herself as a girl, disfigured by scars running down her face, and jumps off London into the massive tracks. Valentine realises that Tom knows too much and pushes him after her.
The story that follows is very fast paced and is quite hard to follow. The plot involves a cyborg stalker, slave traders and sky pirates all leading to a buried ultimate weapon called Medusa. Medusa plans to destroy all who oppose it and annihilate the anti-traction league. Meanwhile in London, Valentine’s daughter hatches a plan to destroy Medusa helped by a young engineer named Bevis .
It all comes together in a thrilling finale where inevitably almost everyone dies and lots of things are blown up.
Mortal Engines seems almost rushed and is very unsatisfactory as you do not have enough time to relate to the characters or get to know them. There are a few gripping moments in the book and generally a good plot. I recommend it to a younger age as adults may find it uninteresting.
By Robert Derry