Reeve’s young adult steampunk novel is set in a dystopian future where steam-powered cities literally roam the blasted earth on enormous tractor treads, devouring each other in the practice of “municipal Darwinism.” After you get past the willing suspension of disbelief required by the premise, Reeve’s world-building has a lot of lovely little details. There’s some sly humor, too: for instance, the modern town of Tunbridge Wells is reborn as Tunbridge Wheels. There’s an air of Industrial-revolution-run-riot that owes a clear debt to Dickens (as do character names like Chudleigh Pomeroy and Magnus Crome), but while there’s a bit of social commentary/cautionary fable, the emphasis is squarely on the action: narrow escapes, betrayals, captures, etc. abound. There’s a mild sense of inevitability to several of the plot twists (well of course so-and-so is going to turn out to be evil) but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I wasn’t completely satisfied by the wrap-up, but it assuredly left me impatient for the sequel.
Dept. of neither-here-nor-there: Mortal Engines is a decade old (and due for a round of reprints early next year, it looks like) — my encountering it only now indicates a clear failure of the Internets to reliably surface to me the books I want to read most.
needs more demons? no.