The Inventor’s Secret (The Inventor’s Secret #1)
By Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: April 22nd, 2014
New from Andrea Cremer, the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade novels, comes an action-packed alternate-history steampunk adventure.
In this world, 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 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. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners, Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel,ScottWesterfeld’s Leviathan and Phillip Reeve’s Mortal Instruments.
This book was very hard for me to rate. While I loved the steampunk idea and the main character for the most part, the love triangle left me frustrated and distracted me from what was left of the plot.
So, the book starts with Charlotte returning to her home in an underground cave system with an amnesic boy. Immediately, her brother, Ash, and several others are suspicious of the boy not only because he claims to remember nothing but he also looks sickly. Here, we find out that Charlotte, her brother, and several other children are living in this cave system, the Catacombs, while their parents are out fighting against the government, in a group called the Resistance, in an alternative, early-1800’s United States where the Revolutionary War failed. Soon after bringing the new boy, Grave, back, Charlotte, Ash, Meg, a girl from the Catacombs, and Jack, a boy who turned up a year before under mysterious circumstances, head for the floating city of New York in order to solidify an alliance between some of the powerful aristocracy and the Resistance in order to stage a coup. The group decides to bring Grave along in order to find out more about him.
Several of the main characters were well drawn out, with Charlotte’s motivations for some actions, while being not entirely rational, were understandable. I also loved how she defended Grave and their relationship felt the most organic out of all the ones in the book. In contrast, Ash and Meg’s characterization left something to be desired. Ash felt like a stereotypical, overprotective big brother and Meg seemed to just provide information about the city when necessary. I would have loved to have seen more interactions between Meg and Charlotte and a sisterly bond, if you will, since they grew up together and are the only two females living in the Catacombs who are close in age.
My favorite characters were Pip, Scoff, and Birch. I would have loved to spend more time with them, they are adorable and highly entertaining. Unfortunately, we only get to see them at the beginning and very briefly at the end.
The romance, however, was exhausting to me. After some things about Jack’s behavior and past relationships come to light, I wanted to punch Jack in the face, and the fact that Charlotte seemed to want to as well just made me like her more. Her reaction to his groveling was refreshing and her analysis of his letter at the end was great to read. Also, the introduction of Coe, Jack’s brother, as the third corner of the love triangle was cliché, but I did like his character much, much more. I want that relationship to be explored more, while Jack, the pathetic, whiny coward, can go cry in a corner with his cop out letter.
Overall, the book was entertaining. It was far from perfect, but Charlotte’s reaction to Jack’s major flub-up made me like her all the more. I just hope that Charlotte moves on to someone better, be it Coe or someone new, and if she ever sees Jack again, he gets the dressing down he deserves. I am looking forward to the next book and finding out what the ending means for Charlotte and her Resistance friends.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.