Predator's Gold - Philip Reeve
When it came to the first book in Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series, the thing I liked best was the awkward, distrustful romance that blossomed - hesitantly - between naive townie Tom and vengeful, disfigured Hester. And the thing I liked least was the half of the book set in (mobile, predatory) London - a needless side-story that seemed to drag.
The good news is that this first sequel stays focused and keeps along at a fair clip. And if the first book seemed to revolve around just two or three clever ideas, Reeve pulls out the stops here, with imaginative contraptions and diabolical villains galore.
What I didn't appreciate so much was the way the relationship between Tom and Hester progressed. It's a huge and unnecessary cliche that sequels always feel the need to break up a couple and get them back together (because, after all, what else can the writer do with them?), and here it feels especially contrived and tiresome. After seeing these two face the gravest dangers together, nurturing unexpected trust and affection, I was kind of looking forward to seeing them face up to new dangers together, and in that respect I found this book a bit disappointing.
But I'll still be picking up the next one when I've got a bit further through my pile of reading material...