It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea ... The great traction city london is on the move again. It has been lying low, skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, as its great mountain of metal lumbers along in hot pursuit of its quarry, the sinister plans it has harbored for years can finally start to unfold behind its soaring walls ... Thaddeus Valentine, London's Head Historian and most famous archaeologist, and his daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes. Only the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice, prevents Valentine from being stabbed in the heart. Madly racing after the fleeing girl, Tom suddenly glimpses her hideous face: scarred from forehead to jaw, nose a smashed stump, a single eye glaring back at him. "Look at what your Valentine did to me!" she screams. "Ask him! Ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!" And with that she jumps down the waste chute to her death. Minutes later Tom finds himself tumbling down the same chute and stranded in the Out-Country, a sea of mud scored by the huge caterpillar tracks of cities like the one now steaming off over the horizon. In a stunning literary debut, Philip Reeve has created an unforgettable adventure story set in a dark and utterly original world fueled by Municipal Darwinism -- and betrayal.
"Gr. 7-10. As the story opens, the great Traction City of London is chasing a small town. When one city takes over another, it processes all reusable materials to create power to run the motorized wheels that enable the city to travel over the land. London's mayor has bigger plans than the domination of a small town, plans involving the use of the weapon that laid waste to Earth millennia earlier. Several young people endeavor to stop the carnage--among them, Tom, an apprentice at the London Museum; a young woman who tries to kill the museum's head historian; the historian's daughter, Katherine; and an apprentice in the Guild of Engineers. The pace of the violence-filled story is frenetic, the sense of helplessness is palpable, and not all the young people survive. A page-turner, this adventure in a city-eat-city world will have readers eagerly suspending disbelief to follow the twists and turns of the imaginative plot. --Sally Estes Copyright 2003 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Like the moving cities it depicts, Reeve's debut novel is a staggering feat of engineering, a brilliant construction that offers new wonders at every turn. In the Europe of the future, the great cities have uprooted themselves from the Earth and donned wheels; roving the Hunting Ground that was once Europe, cities literally devour one another as part of a new social construct called Municipal Darwinism. The mighty city of London, in danger of running out of "prey," looks toward the east, where an enormous wall protects the static cities of the Anti-Traction League-the "heretics" who have chosen the barbaric practice of living on the bare earth. But London's mad Lord Mayor develops a plan to get through the wall: he resurrects a vicious and ancient technology, a post-20th-century update of the nuclear bomb, all the more horrible with time and refinement, and mounts it in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. Against this wildly original backdrop plays the story of Tom Natsworthy, a young Apprentice Historian who helps mine the museum vaults of the juggernaut London. Tom becomes embroiled with his idol, the elder Historian Valentine, and also with the scarred girl Hester who owes Valentine a debt of vengeance. Reeve's prose is sweeping and cinematic, his ideas bold and effortless; he deftly weaves in social commentary on the perils of both war and consumerism, and presents the calamities that can result from poverty and extreme wealth occupying the same quarters. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved