Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (Rebel Mechanics #1) (4 out of 5)
Verity Newton lands a job as a governess, but of course, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Verity is a magister, and has to work hard to conceal that fact, so she can keep her governess job and not end up on the street. She’s pulled into a “secret society” of rebel mechanics, a group of good-natured folks who are developing non-magical sources of power through the use of steam engines, which is frowned upon by society and the British colonists. If these machines become commonplace, British rule will become obsolete, and the people will triumph. Not too much history is covered here, which is unfortunate, because 1888 was quite a time with British rule. That’s one of the few complaints I had with this book- for history being the backbone of the plot, it’s very rarely addressed. The family that Verity is working for are anti-magister, yet Henry, the uncle who hired her, seems to have a sympathetic bone toward the cause… this isn’t addressed until halfway through the book, but it’s pretty obvious. Verity has another problem she didn’t plan on when she falls for the dashing inventor Alec, who’s part of the rebel mechanics. She’s recruited as a spy who writes anonymous articles for the movement, under the name “Liberty Jones”, and is pulled in both directions. She really loves the family, but she’s lying to them and working with the “enemy”. Can Verity keep up both fronts? Can she make a difference? Will Henry and her young charges catch onto her other life and what will happen? Will she and Alec forge a romance under cover of the movement? Do the Rebel Mechanics win their fight? All in all, a really quick, funny, and feel-good read. There’s only one incident of violence in the book, and it’s only necessary to have a confrontation so that the plot proceeds. No profanity, no true violence, and likable, fun characters (except for Flora, the oldest daughter. I wanted her to sit on an umbrella for most of the book, but toward the end, she gains the likability factor). I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys elements of steampunk and a good, quick, fun read. If you’re looking for serious dystopian fare, don’t look here. Look elsewhere. If you want some fun steampunk and like Kady Cross and Gail Carriger, this is the one to go to.