Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve
SPOILER ALERT!



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Mortal Engines was a very enjoyable book. It took me a bit to get into the story, but it held my interest till the end.

I did have a slight problem with the matter of tense, though. It jumped back and forth from present to past tense, and although it was nicely separated by breaks, the whole concept of them seemed without a purpose. An exception is placing Grike's POV in present tense, as opposed to the past tense that most of the book is placed in, and this is because Grike is such a singular character, human and yet not human. It worked for me. But later on, other characters' POVs suddenly switched to present tense as well, without reason (at least it seemed to me to be without reason; I may just be oblivious). Rather than creating a special effect, the switching tense distracted me from the action and the immediacy of the story.

Also distracting was the use of "you." As in, "You wouldn't guess it, but . . . ." It really took me out. As with the repetition of words. I believe there was one passage that went something like "As the burning ship fell, people burning inside . . ."

It also seemed as though some of the drama and intense parts were very unnecessary . . . mainly just there to create drama and intensity. My main problem with this is the death of Bevis, who was a wonderful character (whom I wish was fleshed out more; more often than not, Reeve plants his characterization in people's perception of the character, instead of the audience getting to experience his quirks/flaws/personality themselves. But anyways, this review is getting lengthy as is, I'll drop this point for now). Why did Bevis have to die? I'm not sure I understand the purpose, other than to create needless drama that didn't change anything in the plot or any characters' decisions. It could be an easy out to kill him rather than find an ending for him after Katherine's death (which was VERY important and pivotal, and one I enjoyed . . . in a very non-sadistic way, of course).

Okay, I'm returning to characterization just briefly. Reeve's infatuation with writing about someone's beauty rubbed me the wrong way. I thought it was just Tom's flaw at first, him wondering if the assassin was beautiful as he was chasing her, his huge reaction towards Katherine's beauty, his equally large reaction to Hester's ugliness, and so forth. But this continued with other characters, and it bothered me after a while.

I realize I'm being very critical, because overall this book was very enjoyable to read and I'm going to run to the library tomorrow to check out the second. Reeve writing is overall nothing spectacular, but he does have some very glittering passages that tore into my heart. Especially the last bit. It helped me overall understand the story and it made it complete. It might actually be my favorite ending line I've ever read of any book:
"You aren't a hero, and I'm not beautiful, and we probably won't live happily ever after," she said. "But we're alive, and together, and we're going to be all right."

Beauty and perfection right there, at least to me. He had GLORIOUS passages like this that just made me shiver.