Lynn: When I heard that a movie of Philip Reeve’s brilliant Mortal Engines (2003) was in the works, I immediately wanted to reread the series. (I hear a chorus of “Sing it, sister!”) If you HAVEN’T read the series, RUN to get the first book NOW! If you’re a fan of world-building, this series is like nothing you’ve encountered before—trust me!

For a reviewer, finding time to re-read is incredibly difficult, as waves of new books wash over us. I was feeling pretty glum about my chances to reread Mortal Engines when I opened a box and voila: there was a galley of Night Flights: A Mortal Engines Collection (2018). Be still my heart—three short stories featuring one of the most intriguing characters of the series: Anna Fang, aviatrix, spy, and former slave.

Here, I thought, was my answer. Here was a taste of the world and a return to the series, just in time for the movie. And readers, it’s a delicious treat! I stepped right back into that amazing series without feeling out of step. That incredible world felt immediate and familiar. This is a welcome set of stories, providing Anna Fang’s backstory as a slave and a young flyer just before she meets Hester and Tom. Take a peek at Philip Reeve’s comments on the origins of these delicious stories and his advice on how to read them with the existing series.

Did any of this solve my re-reading dilemma? No. If anything, it made it worse! After having this wonderful tantalizing taste of the Mortal Engines world, I am determined more than ever to start from the beginning and read them all again. Cindy, the next three weeks of Bookends is all yours!

Incidentally, this series has been long marketed as middle-grade, but in my humble opinion, it is better YA due to the complexity of the plot. Ready, set, go! Tell me what you think!

Cindy: I am eager for the movie, too, about this post-apocalyptic world with roving cities, but I urge others to read the book first if you haven’t. Don’t let the varied covers confuse you, as the art has morphed all over the place in the past 15 years. Each of these iterations provides a different glimpse into the story.

You might also want to pick up a set or two of the repackaged paperback covers that will match the movie art. I’m not usually a fan of movie editions of book covers, but these will move off the shelves, traction wheels or no.

While looking for cover art, I discovered a forthcoming book, unseen by us, called The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines (Nov. 2018), by Philip Reeve and Jeremy Levett. The avid readers will certainly want to check out that book.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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