Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Having finished David Copperfield in the morning I then started Mortal Engines because my husband has been hooked on the series. He told me I would finish it in the day and he was right! I couldn't put it down.
Whereas David Copperfield lacked plot this teen fiction novel was stuffed full of it. At first glance it seems to be yet another teenage dystopian science fiction series but it was written in 2001 so isn't just jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon.
The novel is set in a post apocalypse future where cities have been built (or re-built) on to wheels and engines so that they can move about; they survive by capturing and devouring each other in a warped survival of the fittest called Municipal Darwinism. As with so many of these books, society is divided up into classes with a strict hierarchy and the main protagonist is a young orphaned boy called Tom who is near the bottom of the social pile as a Third Class Apprentice. As well as a vertical hierarchy, society is also divided horizontally into four supposedly equal guilds although the novel mainly focuses on the Engineers who appear to have the most power and the guild Tom belongs to which is the Historians.
Like many novels of this type the story centres around the way in which greedy power hungry adults find and use the technology which caused the apocalypse in the first place and the teenagers struggles to prevent them. However, Mortal Engines rises above so many of these teen novels and is pacy, well-written and actually quite profound.
Although Tom is the main protagonist his story is intertwined with that of Hester and echoed by the story of Katherine who is helped by Pod. Between them the boys and girls display a range of characteristics and are certainly not gender stereotyped; all four of them are brave, clever, resourceful and moral.
It is difficult to say much more about this novel without revealing any spoilers but what I really liked about it was that, although it is the first novel in a series, it does actually reach a satisfying conclusion. I want to read the rest of the series but I don't feel I have to to find out what is going on.
Overall, a wonderful book which I would recommend to any teenager (and adult!) and might be especially good for reluctant boys.