Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson eARC (3 stars)
Kel Thursday, June 25, 2015 reviewRebel Mechanics was a pleasant surprise. It could easily have turned into an alternate history romance but, despite not developing the characters as much as I'd like, it was a fun story and I liked it. :)
This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
Genres: YA, Alternate History, Fantasy, Steampunk
Published on July 14, 2015
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Final Rating: 3 stars
A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.
It’s 1888, and sixteen-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.
Magic may rule the colonies, but steam is on the rise, and this book spends most of its time on the latter. Verity Newton is newly arrived to the city and finds herself exposed to the best and worst of both Magister and rebel society.
Verity has lived a sheltered life and is a little naive, but she's practical, kind, and a generally relatable protagonist. She quickly learns that not everyone is content with the social status quo and falls in with American rebels out for revolution (industrial and otherwise). I'm not much of a political intrigue reader, but the political elements were well handled. I especially liked that we saw a bit of both sides of the issue and no one was wholly good or wholly bad.
The romance was a lackluster element for me, but it didn't take up too much of the story, which makes sense. It would have been strange for a governess with a full time day job (and evening spying gig) to spend every spare second thinking about a guy.
I can't find whether this will be a series, but there's definitely lots of room for continuation and plenty of characters who could stand fleshing out. I was disappointed we didn't spend get time and development out of the Lyndon family and staff because of all the time spent on the rebels. I also have a few guesses as to potential plot twists ahead and would like to see how the author handles them (or whether I'm plain wrong). Whatever the case, I enjoyed the story and would definitely be willing to pick up a sequel.