Release Date: December 1, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Steampunk
A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.
When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.
On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?
Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.
The cover, the blurb, and the fact that it's Steampunk are the reasons why TICKER by Lisa Mantchev was an insta-click for me. A clockwork heart and mad scientists?! I must read it even if it's YA. TICKER is a quick and fast-paced read, the chase non-stop and the conflict is more of a moral one than a deep rooted or consequential altercation. I love gray area skirmishes, Warwick is Penelope Farthing's surgeon if you must, a family friend and her older sister's, Dimitria, fiance who promised he'll do anything to save Penny before she died. I mean how can you possibly condemn a man completely when he's the reason why you're breathing? Does the end justify the means? Even if Warwick did some despicable things, I found myself sympathizing with his mad and desperate behavior.
But for all those great points I didn't love TICKER for two reasons: (1) the pace was too fast and (2) its lack of character development.
Let me address the first one, the pace. LMantchev, you might be scratching your head upon reading this wondering WTH is wrong and how readers are so hard to please! Allow me to share my humble opinion on this matter.
From the get-go there's so much going on, an explosion and Penny discovering her parents have been abducted and Warwick escaped not to mention the reactive events stemming from this. Then it was a mad dash to rescue her parents and apprehend Warwick. I want my fantasy reads to be fast but not too quick where it's all a blur. There wasn't much time to really breathe and acclimate to the world because the world and it's overflowing gadgets and backstory were interspersed with the mission. It's almost like texting while driving, it's hard to give your full attention to the road when your phone is chirping like a maniac.
Which brings me to point #2. Because of the super fast turn of events the character development was static. Penny and the rest of the characters were thrown into the situation, there was no calm before the storm, no point to compare and see what these events did to Penny and her friends. Has she always been this daring and curious or has she been frail and vulnerable before this catastrophe happened? And what about her relationship with her circle, is Violet her BFF or an acquaintance? Has there been underlying tension between her and her twin brother, Nic before this? And what was her relationship with her parents like growing up? These were brushed up on and not solidly established so we can only take the situation for granted with zero investment on the characters.
Now I'm not sure if TICKER is part of a series, it does look feel like it from the story, Goodreads don't indicate it and LManchev's book tab on her website doesn't say anything either. I sure hope that this won't be the last, the world is fantastic and LManchev's imagination is very creative and I wouldn't mind reading more of it. Not just that, TICKER is getting lukewarm reviews so far so a next book would be a good move to "redeem" some of it's shortcomings and a chance to hopefully win readers over.