Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Book Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
It is impossible not to compare this book with Cinder by Marissa Meyer. They're just so much alike in basic form. However, Cinder is sci-fi, and Mechanica is a steampunk fairytale. And, of the two, I like Mechanica better, mostly because Cornwell does not pretend to have a strong female character but then undermine her by giving her some Twilighty obsession with abusive men, which is what Meyer does, and which is why I stopped reading her Lunar Chronicles a few chapters into the third book.
Cornwell, in contrast, creates a truly empowered protagonist named Nick, who bucks the system, doesn't give up her life to marry the handsome prince, and won't bow to stereotypical family structures. (Hailing from Utah, as I do, where families are so habitually defined narrowly as only heterosexual parents plus kids, I really liked how Cornwell was willing to admit that a girl might not want to choose just one guy and that a family can be whatever one decides it is.)
However, I did have a few problems with the book:
1) Nick is too good at too many things. She works with metal and glass? She's good at sales, too? She's also a good businesswoman?
2) All her problems were resolved far too easily. Her stepfamily never notices anything. Very little gets in the way of her success.
3) A lot is left hanging. We never find out much about the magic. Characters just disappear without being picked up again. Is there going to be a sequel? This might help, but it still felt odd.
Overall, it's a good read, and I'm going to get some copies in my classroom. But it feels a bit like a draft of a book rather than a finished copy.