And the one that we both enjoyed the most was Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve; although Rachel hadn't read the earlier parts of the quartet (but is still promising to), Rachel was taken with the incredible imagery.
Infernal Devices is the third volume in the Hungry City Chronicles (Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain), a post-apocalypse saga for children and teenagers, following the adventures of earnest and naive Tom and his disfigured, angry and violent girlfriend, Hester (certainly the strongest character in the series and, without a doubt, my favourite for her unique and dark personality). The latter books move the story forward about 15 years and introduce Tom and Hester's daughter Wren as well.
This is our Earth, but many, many years in the future; giant mobile cities lumber across the remains of old countries, attacking - and devouring - each other and clashing with the 'static' rebel faction. Philip Reeve's techno-gothic creations are so cinematic in their descriptions that it is easy to imagine a Japanese anime, in the style of Howl's Moving Castle - although with a lot less greenery!
"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 opening of Mortal Engines, that 'hooked' me when I picked it up and read it in Smiths.
The world has been used up and run down, but as well as the moving cities, it is populated with robot Stalkers ('resurrected' soldiers in metallic casings), strange flying vehicles and airships that ply the Bird Roads and 'old tech' items salvaged in the wastelands.
Everything about these books is a joy to read from their interweaving plots to the beautiful visuals, right up to the moving conclusion at the close of A Darkling Plain.
Imagine then my delight to read, in an interview in the latest issue of SFX (#154) that Philip Reeve is working on a prequel to Mortal Engines, set in the time when the mobile cities were first being built.
He's also written, recently, a Victorian space-opera (Larklight), which I have on order from Amazon, and an Arthurian swords and sorcery book (Here Lies Arthur) due out in April.