Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and invention is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on and quite possibly their very lives.
Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove #1)Featured
Trenton loves tools and machinery, but in his futuristic, protected town of Cove "invention" is a dirty word. Even stringing together a number of approved machinery to make a swing is enough to land him in trouble with the chancellors and get him recommended for retraining. Luckily, there is a problem in the mines that requires a small person with mechanical training to fix, and Trenton manages to escape that fate. What he can't escape is his appointment to the Food Production level of Cove after his graduation from school. On the one hand, he gets to be near Simoni, a girl he really likes, but on the other, there is no equipment for him to fix. When a strange gadget he has found leads him to the Kallista, the daughter of infamous inventor and criminal Leo Babbage, he finally has an outlet for his mechanical leanings. Kallista thinks the gadget, found in the mine, is a message from her father, and the two follow clues that were left-- clues that lead to instructions and parts of a mechanical dragon that the two build, as well as to deeply hidden secrets about the founding and workings of Cove itself. With the aid of Simoni, as well as the unexpected help of Angus, the son of the cancellor, Trenton and Kallista learn that their world is not what it seems, and have to decide how to proceed.
Middle grade readers might not be familiar with Steampunk, and this is a good introduction. This reminded me of DuPrau's City of Ember or Gratz's League of Seven. Solid action/adventure fantasy with some fresh facets.