Published by Greenwillow Books on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Monsters, Thrillers & Suspense
ARC provided by BEA 2016, HarperCollins
Nell Crane has never held a boy’s hand.
In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—Nell has always been an outsider. Her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs that everyone now uses. But she’s the only one with her machinery on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. And as her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary ideas when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a lost mannequin’s hand while salvaging on the beach, and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.
Sarah Maria Griffin’s haunting literary debut will entrance fans of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
This story was about a girl who wants to build herself a robot companion. In the far off future computers and technology are all gone. After some sort of virus/sickness, all of the computers were destroyed or disconnected. Nell is being raised by her crazy father, the inventor of so many artificial parts for humans. In this place almost everyone has a replacement part, even Nell who has a ticking heart. People either love or hate her father and she barely even knows him. Nell is awkward and a bit ostracized, so she decides to make herself a companion.
First, the prose of this story:
“She held on to the glow of the thought. A Machine that is also a person. A whole person. Arms and legs and hands and a smile.”
I found the writing a bit whimsical and refreshing, but I also found myself having a tough time following the story at first. I grew to enjoy the writing style. The whole story is told in 3rd person, except for some bits towards the ending. Everything is described with comparisons and very detailed.
Then the dystopian world:
“There are three rules:
1. The sick in the Pale, the healed in the Pasture.
2. Contribute, at all cost.
3. All code is blasphemy.”
The world has tons of potential, but Nell doesn’t really stray far from home. We didn’t get to see as much as I had hope of this world. The society is not easily understood either. All of the children must make a contribution, but none of the essentials are covered. I just kept thinking, where are the farmers or builders in this society. The story focuses on technology long past and the hope for the future.
There wasn’t any “sick” described. What caused the sickness? What were the symptoms? No idea.
The supporting characters:
First there is Nell’s father, who is a bit crazy and very distant from Nell. Her mother is dead and she things about her often. Nell’s best friend is a girl named Ruby, but Nell doesn’t really feel she can confide in Ruby. Another one to watch in this story is Oliver, who has loved her since they were little kids. It is unrequited love and Nell really dislikes Oliver despite his sweet attempts to win her over.
I really enjoyed reading this story, for the most part. Nell is a bit of a mystery, even to herself, and so she is unpredictable. Her world is terribly flawed, but through Nell I saw there is so much possibility in this place. I love that Nell is so determined no matter what people think of her. Nell goes through major character growth in this story and that was a joy to see.
The problems with this story almost outweigh the positives though. The plot has big gaping holes that even I could not ignore. There was so much not explained in this story. School? Where does food come from? Currency is never explained? World building was sporadic and not well developed. The story is devoid of a romantic interest and we never really find out what happens after the big reveal. I was entertained and invested in the story though. This was hard to review. I think this was young YA. Taking all that into account, I give this 3/5 stars. I think this will appeal to people who don’t wonder about other aspects of world building when they read.