Hello humans! That’s right I’m still reading my way through Philip Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles from the library’s ebook stash! I’m having the problem I always have when I read series where they all start to merge into one in my mind, if you see anything that happens in a later book then let me know and I’ll edit it! I was excited to get back into this world, the constantly moving cities never fail to make me smile, no matter how dark the concept seems to be.
Tom and mutilated Hester in their little scrapyard aircraft Jenny Haniver flee rocket-firing gunships to the ice city of Anchorage, devastated by plague and haunted by ghosts — or real “Lost Boys”? Advised by Jenny’s passenger deceptive Professor Pennyroyal, plump leader Freya 16 heads Anchorage for the Dead Continent of North America, directly into a storm of danger.
Second books are always hard, especially in a concept-heavy series such as this one. I think that, out of the two, Mortal Engines is the stronger novel. This one feels a little less well-paced than the first one, I found myself drifting off in portions. It is still a great book, but it does suffer a tiny bit from second-book-slump.
I still like these characters, even though Hester does grate on me from time to time. I do think she’s important as a character. I think I’m not used to reading YA female characters alongside male protagonists who aren’t perfect all the time. I’m remembering how much I idolised Maris from The Edge Chronicles when I was younger. But it is important to show female characters as being multi-faceted and, while I didn’t agree with a lot (most) of Hester’s decisions in this book I think she’s still an interesting character to read.
I thought that the supporting characters added in this book were also great. Professor Pennyroyal is beautifully irritating (and reminiscent of a lot of people with whom I’ve had the *ahem*pleasure of spending time in the past). Freya is a character who I felt grew throughout the book. At first I thought she was going to be nothing more than a person on which some of the plot would hang, but again she is portrayed as a fully developed character who grows as the story goes on.
That is one thing that Predator’s Gold does well. There is development of character and world in a way that there is not in Mortal Engines. In the first book the focus is on London, whereas here there is a lot more travelling and a greater number of points of view depicted.
What is interesting is that I think this book would probably stand pretty well on it’s own. I think it’s a hallmark of slightly older YA books that they could be read in any order. The events in this book (with a couple of exceptions) are completely distinct from the book before. While it is nice to have the return of some characters, it’s always nice to see a familiar face, it’s also nice to separate the stories, rather than feeling as though you are reading one very long book that has been chopped into four.
Should you read this? If you like the idea of steampunk-esque air ships, and if the idea of traction cities has captured your imagination I would say this is a great read for you! And if your local library doesn’t have Mortal Engines in then I would say you can probably start with this book and work backwards if you like!
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? What other steampunk books should I read? Let me know in the comments below!