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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Mortal Engines is now a major motion picture produced by Peter Jackson! * "Reeve's [Mortal Engines] remains a landmark of visionary imagination." -- School Library Journal, starred review "A breathtaking work of imagination, Hester Shaw is a heroine for the ages. The moment we finished reading [Mortal Engines] we knew we wanted to make it into a movie." -- Producer Peter Jackson London is a radioactive ruin. Tom and Wren discover that the old predator city hides an awesome secret that could bring an end to the war. But as they risk their lives in its dark underbelly, time is running out. Alone and far away, Hester faces a fanatical enemy who possesses the weapons and the will to destroy the entire human race. The final book in the Mortal Engines series, Philip Reeve's A Darkling Plain is the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. Mortal Engines is now a major motion picture produced by Peter Jackson!…

A Darkling Plain

by Philip Reeve

Overall Book Review:

A Darkling Plain is a brilliant conclusion to The Hungry Cities Chronicles, fulfilling all the promise of the first book.  To really appreciate this series, one must read to the end, as books two and three are “okay” and a little stiff; however, they introduce all the characters that poetically come together in the final installment.

The action in this book feels almost frantic, in contrast to books two and three that have slow starts; there is not a dull moment from page one as the events propel the characters forward in a series of twists and near misses.  Hester, Tom, Grike, and Stalker Fang meet in a finale that is satisfying and feels “right”.  The pathway to conclusion unwinds a little unexpectedly (and in one character’s case, a touch ironically), and there is a bittersweet ending for many of the characters.  

Solid sci-fi with a complicated cast of characters, this series in highly recommended.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  7 religious exclamations; 9 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name.

Violence/Gore:  Recollection/reference to violent actions in prior books in the series; struggle resulting in characters being tied up, knife fight, death, explosion brings down a ship; scene in which a character’s throat is slit, struggle, attempted assassination, explosion; description of the fallen and depraved state of a city; Stalker creature kills a group of boys with her claws, brief, mention of blood; report of a character becoming an assassin and brutally killing people; character hit and mistreated while captured; character shoots and kills; destruction of a statue; ships engage in battle with shots fired, hand to hand combat, deaths and injuries; brief, non-detailed battle resulting in deaths; characters captured; Stalker kills an adult, mention of blood; character knocked unconscious; extended fight in which character is shot, injuries, and chase given; character falls to death; report of strangling; character is punched; character killed with poisoned object; mass destruction of cities and armies by weapon; punch in nose; individuals captured (multiple instances); battle with Stalker birds resulting in injuries, deaths; husband violently punches wife (2x); ship is shot down; character crushed by machinery; death and destruction by electrocution; Stalker birds attack airship resulting in injuries and destruction of property; verbal threats; Stalker hits child; fight scene involving sword, pipe, shooting, impalement and crushing (brief); kamikaze pilot to destroy the enemy; character uses weapon to destroy Stalker; reported suicide.

Sex/Nudity:  Character recalls a kiss; character wishes her husband was more handsome like a younger man she met; innuendo; gossip (unfounded) about being lovers; kiss on the hand; characters are attracted to other characters; characters kiss; characters hold hands; characters embrace/cuddle; characters verbally express love (romantic) to one another; vague implications regarding a married couple (sounds, character fumbles to button shirt).

Mature Subject Matter:

War, death, suicide, weapons of mass destruction, physical abuse (spouse).

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters drink; characters smoke; characters go into taverns.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!