Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove, #1)Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review copy provided by Netgalley

This was a most unusual mixture of science fiction, dystopia, and fantasy. In the underground city of Cove, where technological advancement has been brought to an utter and complete stop, Trenton is at odds with himself. He is a mechanical whiz with a penchant for seeing potential improvements to his city's machinery and equipment, but also a devout believer in the city philosophy that curiosity, creativity, and inventiveness brought about the downfall of mankind everywhere except for Cove.

Trenton deals with a heavy sense of self-loathing as his mind continues to create while his sense of duty tells him that he should be able to suppress his creative urges. Into this mix comes Kallista Babbage, the only daughter of infamous inventor, Leo Babbage. She's not an easy sort of personality to be around, having lived most of her life as a defensive loner. She is a strong individual, hellbent on vindicating her father's work and restoring his reputation, which is is in ruins after an explosion that supposedly killed him and a number of residents in an apartment building where he was fixing a water heater.

Though their initial meeting is brought about by happenstance and Trenton is understandably resistant to being associated with Kallista, the two characters begin to work together when Trenton's mother prevents him from receiving an assignment to become a mechanic and he finds himself unable to pursue the career path that he has aspired to for as long as he can remember. What ensues is whirlwind adventure wherein Trenton and Kallista discover information that breaks down their previously held perceptions about their city and its beliefs. There is great risk and dire consequences for their behavior, but as information leads to inspiration and inspiration leads to invention, they both realize that there is no turning back for either of them.

This is a beautiful story, one that will leave readers both reeling and thoughtful. Characters are complex and multi-dimensional, and themes such as trust as friendship are as central to the plot as the "steam-punk" mechanical drive of its protagonists. I was more than a little impressed with this story as a whole. I can't wait to get my hands on the next volume in this middle grade series. This is sure to be a hit with the upper middle grade crowd as well as the young adult audience.

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