It's 1888, and seventeen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family--but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister--but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family's life. She soon realizes she's uniquely positioned to advance the cause--but to do so, she'll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.
Gorgeous Alternate History
I absolutely adored Rebel Mechanics. The voice is so strong throughout the story, and there is a perfect amount of details and descriptions to imagine the characters, machinery, and setting. Verity is a wonderful protagonist, a perfect balance of someone who has had to mature quickly due to her circumstances but is still a teenager. I especially love her steadfast determination to find the truth and real justice. She is no one's puppet.
The action held me the entire time. You're never sure who is completely trustworthy, and it seems like everyone is hiding something. I love the alternate history premise, mixed with a magical flair, and I found the story very engrossing.
I highly recommend this one! I was a little hesitant when I first picked it up because I've gotten a little exhausted of revolution/rebellion stories, but Shanna Swendson captures the reader's attention right from the start with a fresh and original story line.
Fun alternate history plot
In the year 1818, Alasdair Finch lives in a world where men have mechanical parts and live hidden away with only Shadow Boys, illegal mechanics, to care for them. When his older brother Oliver dies, Alasdair uses his knowledge to bring him back to life but the Oliver that returns is different, more of a monster than the brother Alasdair remembers. It seems like an impossible task to repair their relationship and keep Oliver safe from a town that already fears and hates Clockwork people but then the novel Frankenstein is published and Alasdair knows they’ll be lucky to make it out of Geneva alive.
October always puts me in the mood for creepy reads and this one seemed perfect for that. I love Frankenstein, historical settings, brotherly relationships, re-tellings, and this book promised all of that. And I got it.
Alasdair was a character that I could really emphasize with as all he wanted was to have his brother back. He wanted his family to be happy and whole and he was at least going to try to use his knowledge to bring Oliver back. He was getting constant pressure from his parents to be better and was living with so many huge secrets that it was surprising he never just snapped. He was really smart and likely could have gone on to do anything he wanted but his sense of family, duty, and guilt kept him in Geneva with his parents and hiding his brother.
The relationships in the book were absolutely fascinating. The main focus was the relationship between Alasdair and Oliver, comparing how they were before Oliver’s death and now that he had been brought back. There was so much anger, resentment, guilt, and fear but under it all was also the love that was so present in the flashbacks. There was the interesting relationship between Alasdair and Geisler, who was Oliver’s mentor and now offering to be one to Alasdair. He seemed to be keeping secrets and I never trusted him but I was hoping he was good for Alasdair’s sake. Another favourite was the developing friendship and maybe more between Alasdair and Geisler’s assistant Clemence.
The writing and setting were both dark, as was expected from reading the synopsis. It fit the overall story very well and the world that was created was interesting and a little scary. I really liked how Lee showed the different ways other cities outside Geneva reacted to the Clockwork Men and Shadow Boys, not everyone looked at them with disgust and fear, and how easily a small group full of fear and hate can latch onto something, in this case Frankenstein, for a reason why their views were right the whole time, and infect so many more people.
The action wasn’t fast-paced through the whole book but that didn’t make it slow or boring. There was the mystery of who had written Frankenstein, what was Geisler hiding, what was Alasdair hiding, what would Alasdair do with Oliver. So many questions that had to be answered along with the action scenes. It made for a fast and very enjoyable read.
This was one book I enjoyed thoroughly. I saw the cover and was interested right away. The tagline, all's fair in love and revolution, definitely drew me in. Then, I read the synopsis and was excited to read it as soon as possible. Finally, after reading it I can say it was time well spent because I enjoyed every page of this interesting alternate history.
Verity was a character I loved immediately and most of the others I did as well. Of course there were characters I never warmed to, Flora for example. But there were times when this book actually made me genuinely pissed about what was going on. I think that is a great accomplishment. I didn’t merely read the book but I felt what the characters felt.
The steampunk and magic were both interesting to me as is the fact that America is still under British rule. As far as alternate histories go this is one of the more interesting you could choose to read.
I found it to be very well written and entertaining. All I can think is that I NEED a second book. They left it very open ended so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Shanna Swendson writes a sequel.