Book Review of Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

I just finished reading Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve, a book bought for our middle school classroom. I actually wasn’t that excited to read this futuristic YA fantasy, but I really enjoyed it and rate it 3 out of 4 stars

The book is very well written and edited, and has two solid plots. The character development is what really makes this a solid story. The characters have strong personalities, but are completely believable with their mistakes, fears, and hopes.  

Tom, Hester Shaw, Katherine Valentine, and Apprentice Pod are the main characters. Between the four of them, the two main plots are interwoven and with loyalty and betrayal amongst murders and the destruction of society. Tom and Hester Shaw make an unwilling and intense team. Apprentice Pod and Katherine Valentine seek each other out, but don’t live through the same harrowing events and their bond isn’t quite as intense. Anna Fang, Mr Valentine, and Shrike are all striking characters as well. Without them, the book would be unfinished.

This book takes place in the future, after the Sixty Minute War has completely destroyed life as we know it and cities are forced to ravage each other. Cities are now mobile, and built upward on various tiers. Larger cities scramble after weaker cities until they can overtake them and the parts and people are devoured to be re-purposed by the the more powerful city. Each city, of course, would prefer to be the better city, the more powerful city. How far would a leader be willing to go to be the best? Would they use a weapon from the Sixty Minute War? Who could possibly stop a city from destroying the modern world?

I recommend this book for most middle schoolers. The writing is straightforward and easy to follow. There is very little religion, it’s treated more as mythology. There are angry outbursts, but no swearing. There is death and destruction, but it is written very appropriately for children.


  1. I haven’t read the book, but I saw the film, which I wasn’t impressed with. I know that books can often be better than the film, but still

    1. Yeah, I have no desire to see the film. The book was good but not great, I think the movie would be just ok, losing much of the character’s thoughts and feelings. That character development is what saves the book.

    1. Sounds like an interesting read for middle school. Better than what the books chosen when I was in middle school I think, I remember we were always complaining that they gave us boring reads.

  2. This is one of those rare books that I’ve actually seen the film and not read it. I enjoyed the film and started the audio book but never quite made it through. Sounds like I should give it another go though. Great review.

  3. Sounds like an interesting book. Better than a lot of books I remember in middle school where we always complained that they gave us boring reads.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I’m not into fantasy either myself, but as a middle grade author, I appreciate it when adult readers review middle grade and ya books.

    1. I almost always include a sentence or two in my reviews about which classrooms I think a book might appropriate for. I always crammed as many books and genres on my room regardless of what I like to read. It helps though to know a bit of background on all of them.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I’m not a fan of fantasy either myself, but as a middle grade author, I always appreciate when adult readers review middle grade and ya titles.

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