(The Inventor's Secret #1)
Release Date: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Philomel; 336 pages
Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.
The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.
The Steampunk genre has always scared me. It's always been a category that I've been hesitant to read. Probably because I usually liken it to historical fiction, and historical fiction isn't really my idea of a fun read. But recently I'd seen some photos of cosplayers in steampunk outfits and I really got intrigued. Then I remembered that I had picked up this book at New York Comic Con last year. Believe it or not, I've never read an Andrea Cremer book, even though I own 5 of her previous works. But I am glad that I choose this book as not only my first steampunk book, but my first Andrea Cremer book because this book was fantastic!
The Inventor's Secret is set in an alternate universe where the British won the Revolutionary War. The outcome of this is a continuing war for freedom. Now I must admit the historical back story is a major flaw in the story. I wish that the build up had been written a bit clearer for the reader. Maybe a passage before the start of the book giving details about the war. But luckily the characters and the adventures that they partake makes up for the lack of historical background.
Our lead is Charlotte. She is a gun-toting sixteen year old that you do not want to mess with. Nothing makes me happier than a strong female lead. She along with her brother Ash, live in a catacombs where they are in charge of looking after the children in their hideout. It immediately became clear that both Charlotte and Ash have been forced to grow up earlier than most. Their maturity levels rival those of people twice their age. But I am guessing dealing with war causes you to age faster. I loved their sibling relationship. It always fascinates me when an author write a story with a strong sibling bond. Also in the story is Jack. Ash's best friend, and naturally the person that Charlotte bickers with constantly.
Immediately I was drawn to the relationship between Charlotte and Jack. It's pretty much the core of the story. And I am a sucker for love hate relationships. And this one is just written so well. Every time either Charlotte or Jack would push the other's buttons I ate it up like cake! I never once got tired of their relationship. And seeing it's gradual build and blossom into such a beautiful thing. There was a point in the book where I had a major, "OH NO!" moment. And honestly I should have seen it coming, but I was so into the story, that I put that in the back of my mind. I love it when an author can make a reader completely forget about something they read, and have it pop up again and just BAM hits you in the face. Amazing.
The relationships are definitely the forefront of the book, but I am hoping that in the next one we get to see a little bit more progress with the war. A lot of the dealings of what is going on aren't really told in the book. Which is a bit of a bummer. But the science fiction aspect of it was told well. The mysterious character of Grave, while not center stage, was always in the readers mind. And watching his story unfold was a joy to read as well, and I can't wait to continue and discover more about him.
I cannot wait for the sequel. In fact, I am glad that I put off reading this because if I had to wait a year and a half to read the next book, I would not be very happy. This was my first steampunk novel, but it definitely won't be my last!