Sunday, 23 November 2008

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.



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.

7 comments:

DesLily said...

I am so glad right now that my tbr pile is so big I have actually stopped going to amazon for a bit! I plan to keep it more under control so I am ignoring this post of yours lol...

Nymeth said...

"I didn't need to start another YA fantasy series, I really didn't."

lol, I really can relate. But what is one to do with so many great ones being written?

I do love being taken by surprise, and it's very refreshing to read something different now and again. So yeah, it sounds like I have no choice but to read this series :P

Cath said...

Heehee, Pat. ;-p It's okay, I won't go off in huff. Much.

Nymeth: I don't know what we're supposed to do about all the great series that are being written at the moment. It feels like some kind of Golden Age of YA fantasy writing and keeping up with it all is really hard. I do, however, think you would really like this series - I just have a feeling it might be your kind of thing. Another person I think would like it is Chris but I don't think he reads this blog now, which is probably just as well because I'm sure he doesn't need *another* series either. LOL.

DesLily said...

*utoh*.. but.. but... I only have 52 books in my tbr pile before I can begin "new series"...heh.

Cath said...

Well, there ya go, Pat. 52 books... for you that's only about 6 months reading. You'll be starting this series in *no* time! Heheh.

DesLily said...

could well be but a number of them are "big boys" ! The one on John Ford is over 800 pgs and the Holmes one is over 1000 ! both small print! I may have to invest in a magnifying glass to read them! I have a few others that are about 700 pgs too! sooooooooo... lol i know I won't finish them but I do need to make one heck of a dent in them!!

Cath said...

Crikey, Pat, those are *huuuge* books!! And I'm betting that one about John Ford will be absolutely fascinating.