DISCLAIMER: THERE WILL MOST LIKELY BE SPOILERS FOR EVERY SINGLE BOOK REVIEW I POST UP. AVOID READING UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS OR YOU’VE ALREADY READ THE BOOK.
I was expecting quite a bit when I picked up the book Ticker by Lisa Mantchev. The book’s summary consists of the following:
“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 book takes place in a steampunk London as far as I can figure out. Steampunk is basically when you mix technology with the Victorian Era. It’s a fun type of setting to play around with, but the problem is making sure that everything you have in the steampunk world you write makes sense to the reader. Sometimes I find that quite a few people that attempt to write steampunk end up going completely over-elaborate in descriptive details but don’t take the time to explain those concepts they create in the steampunk world, and this can get incredibly confusing for me as a reader. Unfortunately, this exact problem was what ended up happening for me. There were times in the book where there were certain steampunk inventions/weapons/concepts that were not given enough explanation for me regarding how they function and such, and I felt that I was left wandering about in the dust due to that for a little while.
In terms of characters, I actually liked Penny. She’s a ‘no nonsense’ type of person, and yes she can be reckless and bold at times but she’s only trying to figure out what the heck is going on with everything AND save her parents in the process. However, despite the fact that she and Violet are supposed to be friends, I didn’t really get the sense that they were friends as I read the book. In fact, I saw them more like frenemies and that wasn’t really fun to read since they’re SUPPOSED to be portrayed as friends. Nic, Penny’s brother, felt like to me that he was more of someone that was just there for the sake of being there. Yes, he was trying to help his sister but I felt like he was basically useless/hindering the quest to save their parents the entire time (especially since he got himself kidnapped by the main and villain and everything else that followed).
Sebastian had to be my favourite character in the entire book. I honestly wasn’t expecting the plot twist that came with him (I won’t try to spoil what exactly happened with him then) and while reading the rest of the novel after that I felt that it actually worked with him. Meanwhile with Marcus, at first I honestly wanted to slap him in the face if I could, but then realized that he actually developed decently from completely rude idiot to somewhat decent guy if you get past his cold side. However, his romance with Penny was not written to the best it could have been. Yes, they weren’t all “love at first sight therefore we must kiss each other”—it was portrayed more as “you’re a total jerk but I guess I love you after thinking about it” which felt a little more realistic and that was nice, but I don’t think the relationship was given enough time to flourish in the novel because it felt a bit strange between Penny and Marcus to me as an actual relationship. For all the characters in this book, I think most of them (even Penny, unfortunately) were not given enough time to have them developed enough. The only characters I felt truly developed decently were Marcus and Sebastian.
Plot-wise, I felt that the pace of the plot moved way too slowly in the first half of the book, and I was getting very close to literally screaming at Penny (even if she is only a fiction character) to just go and find her parents already! After I read through the first half, though, the second half just started going at full-speed to the ending, and that wasn’t exactly fun either. However, in terms of what actually went on in the plot, I enjoyed some if not all of the plot twists that were placed in the novel and I did like how the ending of the novel turned out, too.
Overall, I would rate this book a score of 3 out of 5 because of the weird pacing of the plot in the novel as well as the lack of explanation of steampunk concepts and most of the characters not being very well-developed through the book. Penny being a strong protagonist despite lack of development as well as the decent development of the characters Sebastian and Marcus help to redeem it, thankfully (especially Sebastian).
Have you read Ticker? What did you think of it? And if you haven’t read the book and read through this review despite my disclaimer at the beginning, would you consider reading the book?