Hello humans! Welcome to another instalment in my reviews of Philip Reeve’s The Hungry City Chronicles. I’ve already reviewed Mortal Engines and Predator’s Gold. There may, therefore, be spoilers for the previous two books in this review, though I will not be including any major spoilers for Infernal Devices. Aside: am I the only one who always mixes this up in my head with the Cassandra Clare books, they are very different?
The third thrilling book in the stunning Predator Cities series!The mighty engines of Anchorage have been rusted and dead for years. The derelict city no longer roams the Ice Wastes, but has settled on the edge of the land that was once America. Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw are happy in the safety of a static settlement, but their daughter, Wren, is desperate for adventure. When a dangerously charming submarine pirate offers her a chance to escape, Wren doesn’t think twice about leaving her home and her parents behind. But the pirate wants something in return–Wren must steal the mysterious Tin Book. To do so will ignite a conflict that could tear the whole world apart.
As with Predator’s Gold and Mortal Engines, this book could easily stand on its own. There are plot elements which are more satisfying if you’ve read the previous two novels but you will be able to comprehend the story and the characters without needing too much background information. In this case, this is because this book takes place sixteen years after the events of Predator’s Gold. It’s for that reason that I would be more inclined to call this series two connected duologies (though I have yet to finish the fourth book so I could be wrong). This does mean the protagonist is no longer Tom but his daughter Wren (I’m all for female protagonists, though Tom was remarkably non-irritating).
Hester and Tom do still feature heavily, though they are adults now. I still find myself getting very annoyed at Hester’s choices, they are not the choices I would make. But, as I have said in a previous review, I do think she is a refreshing take on a YA female character who doesn’t always do or say the right thing. That does rub off on Wren a little, but you can see that Hester and Wren had very different upbringings and so they have distinct (if similar) personalities.
It’s interesting to have such a drastic time jump, effectively transforming your main characters into ‘responsible adults’ in a few moments. However, I do think that’s becoming a bit of a hallmark of these books, the idea that one momentous event does not magically solve all the problems of a world. [Spoilers for Mortal Engines and Predator’s Gold] In Mortal Engines the destruction of London is not the end of corruption in the traction cities, in Predator’s Gold the move to America does not solve all the problems for the world or for our characters [end of spoilers]. It’s not the most uplifting way to tell a story but it’s a powerful reminder of the way ideologies and prejudices can run deep in people and in societies.
The plot of this book is quite typical of these books, it’s an adventure with a fair amount of travelling involved. There is betrayal around every corner and the sense that nothing is quite as it seems. There are a host of familiar characters (some of whom have grown no less slimy) and also new ones to capture your heart. I will forever love the lost boys no matter how awful they are.
I think I can say that I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed Predator’s Gold partly because I felt the plot was a little bit more fleshed out. It’s still not as epic as Mortal Engines but that’s not hard.
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? I’m about to reach the conclusion of this series and I’m excited to see where it goes! Should I read the prequels? Let me know in the comments below!