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Mortal Engines (Hungry City Chronicles) Mass Market Paperback – September 14, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. As the story opens, the great Traction City of London is chasing a small town. When one city takes over another, it processes all reusable materials to create power to run the motorized wheels that enable the city to travel over the land. London's mayor has bigger plans than the domination of a small town, plans involving the use of the weapon that laid waste to Earth millennia earlier. Several young people endeavor to stop the carnage--among them, Tom, an apprentice at the London Museum; a young woman who tries to kill the museum's head historian; the historian's daughter, Katherine; and an apprentice in the Guild of Engineers. The pace of the violence-filled story is frenetic, the sense of helplessness is palpable, and not all the young people survive. A page-turner, this adventure in a city-eat-city world will have readers eagerly suspending disbelief to follow the twists and turns of the imaginative plot. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Reeve will soon be the go-to man for imagination, excitement, and crowd-pleasing action.” (Horn Book magazine)

“Readers who enjoy violent, titanic clashes between good and evil will be absorbed from beginning to end.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Exciting and visually descriptive.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

“Wildly imaginative, full of marvelous details, humor, and grand adventures.” (KLIATT)

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Hungry City Chronicles
  • Mass Market Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (December 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060082097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060082093
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With the Harry Potter craze currently in full swing, a lot of people are constantly looking for the "next" Harry Potter series. There are lots of contenders for the title; from the definite rip-off Charlie Bone series to the sly slightly evil Artemis Fowl. Personally, I've read a great deal of these and none really hit me as having the same moral core or elaborate well-constructed world that the Potter books conjure up. Until now, that is. With "Mortal Engines", the first in author Philip Reeve's "Hungry City Chronicles" we have the privilege of finally reading about a world that is just as creative, enjoyable, and exciting as anything J.K. Rowling could ever have imagined.
It is the future, and the world is not as it was. After humanity almost destroyed itself entirely in what became known as the Sixty-Minute War, civilizations have taken it upon themselves to become mobile. Cities, townships, and even suburbs now move across the land, eating anything smaller than themselves. This system is referred to as Municipal Darwinism with the strong eating the weak. The city of London is a particularly vicious devourer of smaller villages and it is here that we meet Tom. A young Historian, Tom idolizes the famed Historian and explorer Thaddeus Valentine and his lovely daughter Katherine. When Tom narrowly keeps a severely deformed girl from assassinating Valentine, he finds himself wound up in a series of betrayals and adventures that may well lead to the end of civilization once more.
The book is filled to the brim with interesting characters. There Grike, the last survivor of the old world who is more machine than man. Or Anna Fang, the red clad aviatrix that fights against the moving cities as an Anti-Tractionist.
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Format: Hardcover
In the years beyond the 30th century, after life as we know it is destroyed in the Sixty Minutes War, the world is divided into three: the Static communities, who live in farms and buildings firmly stationed on the earth, the aviators, who travel the Bird Roads in the sky, and the Traction Cities, the giant cities on engineered wheels who live by the Municipal Darwinism - the big cities devour the little cities for their resources. And the biggest Traction City of them all is London, on the move for larger hunting grounds and more resources.
Living in London are two very different young people - Tom, a Third Class Apprentice in the History Guild, and Katherine, an upper class noble daughter of the famed archeologist Thaddeus Valentine, whom both of them adore for his bravery and exciting exploits. Yet after London destroys the small town of Salthook whilst the three of them are touring the Gut (the engineering belly of London), one of the refugees attacks Mr Valentine in a furious rage, and is only just stopped by Tom's intervention. Chasing her up the levels of the Gut, Tom corners her before a chute that leads to the desolate Out-Country, and is horrified beyond comprehension when Mr Valentine pushes the both of them down it. Now stranded in the Out-Country with the young lady named Hester Shaw, with the hideously disfigured face, Tom is pushed into a series of adventures including aviators, pirates, slave-traders and Static towns, during which he begins to realise: things do not exist as he has understood them. And all the while, they are being hunted by a tragic and fatal being known as Shrike...
Meanwhile, back in London, Katherine is doing some investigating of her own concerning the disappearence of Tom and the assassin.
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Format: Paperback
This is ostensibly a work for the young'uns, and probably best for mature elementary school kids. That said, I'm an adult willing to admit that I was looking for something to fill in the void left between Harry Potter installments. I'm not about to read the shameless rip-off Charlie Bone series, and the Artemis Fowl books just don't appeal. I gave this a shot instead, and it was a genuinely satisfying discovery.

The tone of the book is dark, and the setting close to the unfortunately-named 'steam punk' genre. It might be better to refer to this as a Steam Age adventure. The sort of technologies and societies one would expect from Jules Verne, with a modern sense of noir and maturity. Some kids will undoubtedly find it disturbing, with its occasionally graphic descriptions of violence and death. I'm of the opinion, however, that it's just the thing for people of all ages who resent books that talk down to readers-- you won't find any comedic sidekicks, fart jokes, bumbling villains, or irritating song 'n dance numbers here.

Instead, Reeve has spun a believable tale of growth, courage and love amid trying times, albeit in a far-fetched world. My complaints are minimal: there are a few oh-so-clever jokes that will obviously appeal only to those over 25 or so (e.g. the airship named 'My Shirona'), and the plot developments are sometimes a bit too convenient and underdeveloped. Which is to say that if anything, this book should have been longer in the telling.

Still, this is a book for young readers that I'm critiquing as an adult, so I'm more than happy to overlook such shortcomings. After all, I was so engrossed that I finished the book in two sittings, finding it difficult to set aside.
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