Study Guide

Katherine Valentine in Mortal Engines

By Philip Reeve

Katherine Valentine

Miss Martyr

Valentine's daughter could not be more different from her father. She's like the bohemian vegetarian daughter of a Wall Street banking executive. (Our apologies to Valentine. He may be a murderer of both adults and children, but he's nowhere near as evil as a Wall Street banking exec.)

While Valentine is out bombing airships and killing air pirates, Katherine is trying to find a way to solve the problems of London's lower class. She's also trying to peacefully dismantle a weapon of mass destruction. Even at fifteen, though, she thinks change might be hopeless. "What was the point [...] when everyone knew that Magnus Crome controlled the police?" (18.7). How did Valentine, a single dad, end up with a daughter like this?

When Katherine finds out about MEDUSA, a weapon that could kill thousands of people in a matter of seconds, she's determined to put a stop it—even at the cost of her own life. With Engineer Bevis Pod, she builds a bomb and tries to disable MEDUSA. All the Lord Mayor's cronies and their guns don't even faze her. Guess she got courage from her dad's side of the family.

Katherine's so willing to give up her life, she does it for a relative she doesn't even know. Suspecting Hester is her half-sister, Katherine throws herself between Hester and Valentine when Valentine tries to kill her. Katherine dies herself. It's pretty tragic, and we think that even if Hester weren't her half-sister, she still would have sacrificed herself to save Hester. Katherine's just that kind of person, and Mortal Engines shows us an even sadder truth: there's room in this world for non-violent, kind-hearted people.

Valentine Hearts

One other thing father and daughter have in common is their striking good looks. Tom can't get enough of them. Either of them. But he's especially smitten with Katherine after only seeing her for two minutes, tops. Katherine, however, has eyes for Bevis Pod.

Katherine's so busy trying to save the world, she doesn't even notice love sneaking up on her. It happens one day as she's watching Bevis making a bomb. What could be more romantic? "She had begun to understand that [Bevis] was really much cleverer than her" (32.3). Well, he's clever at bomb making, yes. Social situations? Not so much. Still, Katherine is impressed with the young man's ingenuity, and his striking good looks don't hurt. Everyone loves a hunky bald man.

Katherine wonders if love is "a slow thing that crept over you in waves until you woke up one day and found that you were head-over-heels with someone quite unexpected" (27.3). Wow, sounds kind of like London bearing down on you when your back is turned.

For Katherine, though, it turns out be a good thing. It's nice that she gets to experience love in her short, short life, but it's a shame she doesn't really get to savor it. It seems like Municipal Darwinism, and survival of the fittest, doesn't leave any room for something fragile like love.