Glancing over the scavengers’ heads, Tom glimpsed a dark silhouette against the distant glare of furnaces. The girl was at the far end of the catwalk, climbing nimbly up a ladder to a higher level. He ran after her and snatched at her ankle as she reached the top. He missed by a few inches, and at the same moment a dart hissed past him, striking sparks from the rungs. He looked back. Two more policemen were thrusting through the crowd with cross-bows raised. Beyond them he could see Katherine and her father watching him. “Don’t shoot!” he shouted. “I can catch her!”Philip Reeve and I are both going to be Guests of Honour at next year's Eastercon, but I confess that I had not read any of his books. Mortal Engines was a huge hit when it first came out, and has been (unsuccessfully) filmed. The plot is fairly standard YA (girl meets boy, they are separated, struggle and are eventually reunited) but what really makes it is the setting: a post-apocalyptic steampunk Eurasia where cities have become mobile and eat other cities in a struggle for survival, "municipal Darwinism". It does take quite a special talent to invent a grotesque, fantastic world and also get us to sympathise with the characters who gradually learn just how awful their world really is. He also gives his heroine a particularly memorable back-story to uncover. Recommended. You can get it here.
This was my top unread book acquired this year, and also my top unread sf book. Next on those piles are Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver, and Staring at the Sun, by Julian Barnes.