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Review: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendon (Rebel Mechanics #1)

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Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson // VBC ReviewRebel Mechanics (Rebel Mechanics #1)
Shanna Swendson
Published: July 14, 2015 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: library

Reviewed by: Margaret

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Rebel Mechanics is set in New York City in an alternate nineteenth century in which America is still a British colony. The English aristocracy quashed the 1776 rebellion with their magic and continue to use it to oppress the lower classes. Magic powers carriages, airships and even the lights in their homes. A group of American inventors is working to build steam engines to replace the magical ones and end their country’s dependence on the Magisters, the magic-using aristocracy. While it’s not illegal to build those machines, the Magisters do not approve of them, as they are not interested in losing their wealth and influence.

Seventeen-year-old Verity Newton arrives in New York—having just lost her mother and been disowned by her father—seeking a job as governess. She’s hired by Lord Henry Lyndon, a young Magister who’s recently become guardian to his late brother’s three children. He also looks suspiciously like one of the bandits who robbed Verity’s train on the way to New York. Verity chooses to reserve judgment until she can learn more, though. After all, she has her own secrets and nowhere else to go.

Verity doesn’t really feel like a typical YA heroine to me, even though she’s seventeen. That’s not at all a bad thing, as I often have very little patience for teen angst. She’s doing an adult job, teaching and chaperoning children. (And six-year-old Olive is great fun!) She, somewhat inadvertently, makes friends with the mechanics who have very adult conversations about politics and rebellion. Verity agrees, also somewhat inadvertently, to pass along any information she learns on the job that might help their cause.

Verity can be quite naïve, however. That’s not a function of her age so much as her sheltered upbringing. She’s very well educated, but was home schooled by her father, a professor at Yale. So everything she knows comes from books, rather than experience. She hasn’t had much exposure to the Magisters and feels a little overwhelmed by their opulent world and all of its rules. She learns quickly and forms her own opinions, though. I like that she didn’t allow either side to take advantage of her ignorance.

Rebel Mechanics should appeal to fans of Gail Carrigers Finishing School seriesthere are similarities in the way the heroines are drawn into a conflict between the ruling class and machine-building rebels. Though it reminds me more of Emma Jane Holloway’s Baskerville Affair series, except that it’s not nearly as dark. In fact, I felt like I was smiling through the whole book. I really enjoyed it! I even woke up on Saturday morning excited to read more, only to remember I had finished the book Friday night. So I guess I’m ready for the sequel now!

Sexual content: kissing

One Response to “Review: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendon (Rebel Mechanics #1)”

  1. Amy M says:

    This sounds great! (Adding to TBR list now)

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