One of my new year’s resolutions is to read more literature, and then to blog about it. This post is more of a prologue to that, because the books it reviews don’t really count as literature.
So a month or two ago I was browsing TVTropes, and came upon this entry right here. A post-apocalyptic future with mobile cities that eat each other? This was way too intriguing to pass up. I decided to only order the first three books since the last, A Darkling Plain, is only out in hardback.
All in all, the series was pretty good. Not great, mind you, and I don’t think I would have given it all those awards, but a pleasant little adventure story. There are a lot of clever bits, including the basic premise of Traction Cities, and various shout outs. The plot and characters, though… they were less impressive. The author’s presence was too visible, I think, moving the players around on his board, and I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief. Likewise, Hester Shaw’s evolution from Action Girl to full-on murderous sociopath felt arbitrary and forced.
Incidentally, though the series does pretty consistently depict a savagely town-eat-town world, it falls prey to the Apocalypse Not trope. In Mortal Engines the Hunting Ground was in bad shape and getting worse, with slim pickings for London. Yet in Infernal Devices, we see many cities of varied sizes coexisting, with something of a common culture. Not to mention the lands of the Anti-Traction League.
Writing-wise, the first book needed some polish. The plot seemed even more forced (honestly, it was pretty clear this was Philip Reeve’s first stab at novel writing), and there were a couple of odd bits—like passages switching to the present tense for no clear reason—that should have been caught by an editor.
Still, I was entertained, and that’s what counts, right? I’ll be sure to pick up A Darkling Plain when it comes out in paperback.
Next up: Karen X. Tulchinksy’s The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky