read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

Predator's Gold

I didn't need to start another YA fantasy series, I really didn't. I have more than enough on the go - 18 at the last count - though not all YA. It was just that the first in this particular series, Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, was on offer for 99p in Waterstones and me not being physically capable of resisting a book bargain, I had to buy it. And it turned out that I liked it a lot and set about reserving the sequel from the library, Predator's Gold... which I probably would not have read as quickly as I did but when I got the thing home I checked online and found that someone else had reserved it and it couldn't be renewed. So rather than lose it, I read it. And I'm glad because, if anything, it's even better than the original.

Warning: there are serious spoilers in the next paragraph!

At the end of the first book Tom and his girlfriend, Hester Shaw, head off into the sunset in their airship, after many troubles with traction cities and the anti-traction league. We meet them again two years later, heading north to the Arctic where they encounter the moving city of Anchorage. It's practically deserted after a plague wiped out most of the inhabitants, including its leaders - and it's their teenage daughter, Freya, who is now in charge of this 'ghost' city. Tom recognises a kindred spirit in Freya who, although somewhat spoilt, is a history buff like him. They become rather too close for Hester's liking and when, one night, she catches them kissing she takes their airship and betrays the city to Arkangel, the worst kind of predator city. Things go from bad to worse and Tom is captured by The Lost Boys who live in the underwater city of Grimsby and are led by a Fagin-like character known only as 'Uncle'. Tom is in deep trouble and so is Hester who now regrets her hasty actions and has to shift heaven and earth to put things right again. Not only that, there is one very serious war looming...

I'm so impressed with this series. The plots are imaginative and pacey but most of all there's very little that's cosy here. The world these people inhabit is dangerous and getting more so by the minute: nowhere is safe. Reeve's writing style has you on the edge of your seat, wondering what on earth will happen next. And his characters are complex... the good guys do bad things or are guilty of bad judgement or of fancying someone they shouldn't. The bad guys have their reasons and sometimes surprise you, and things are not always what they seem, which keeps the reader guessing. It's very refreshing to find this kind of ambiguity in young adult writing - refreshing but very, very pleasing. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this series to anyone who enjoys YA writing that is not formulaic. Not that I have anything against formulaic, I like it in fact, but there are times when it's good to be taken by surprise and this is one of them. An excellent read.
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