Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

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I received this book for free from Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Mechanica by Betsy CornwellMechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion Books on August 25, 2015
Source: Clarion Books
Buy on Amazon

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

Don’t get me wrong – despite my three-star rating, this has got to be the most refreshing Cinderella reimagination I’ve read.

I’ve always wanted more fairy tale retellings in a Steampunk setting. It’s new, it’s unique, and visualizing all the gears and machines around characters who are based on our favorite tales from childhood simply gives me the warm fuzzies. All the possibilities! All the unique things our character can do with herself and with her surroundings!

In that aspect, this book certainly delivered.

Do you remember how Disney portrayed our favorite fairy tale heroines in the early 90s (and well before that) as ladies who needed a man in order to be happy? Remember how romance was the be-all end-all to their Happy Ever Afters?

Well, Mechanica takes all that and throws it out the window.

I love how feminist this book was. I love how Nicolette was brought up loving engineering and making things out of gears and machines and little trinkets. She was independent, strong-willed, and determined to do something that would make her stable enough to get out of her stepfamily’s clutches. She made this her goal, and it was very empowering to see a heroine who didn’t wait for things to happen to her and who tried to put her future in her own hands.

And the romance! Or the lack of it. I think the best part about this book was how love was portrayed. It’s definitely not the usual one we’d expect from a retelling of tales that are majorly about “they married and lived happily ever after.” Instead of emphasizing on loving a prince who sweeps you off your feet, it’s more about loving yourself. That whether or not he is there in your life, that doesn’t make you any less of the person you are and who you’re meant to be.

And my friends, that is bloody beautiful.

My only qualm about Mechanica is that, as Emily May stated in her review, it is told in a rather dull way. It is easy to read and it is easy to follow, and the heroine is absolutely likeable, but there is really no excitement in the storyline. It’s like following the average person lead their life without any exciting events, and if there were any, it was told in an anti-climactic way. There was no climax. I waited for some heart-stopping scenes to happen, only to realize that I’m already at the end. There wasn’t even enough internal conflict/struggle to satisfy me.

All in all, this book was enjoyable. I know I rooted for the main character. I know I cheered when she decided to prioritise herself. If you want girl power, you can’t go wrong with this.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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15 Responses to “Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell”

  1. Brianna @ Otakutwins Reviews

    Aw 🙂 you convinced me to read this even if it wasn’t super heart pounding and all. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I like how the theme is basically learning to love yourself, and let’s be real, a steampunk Cinderella story is awesome!
    Lovely review.

  2. Hannah

    Mmm, lovely review. I’m always up for a good fairytale retelling, and I can certainly get behind a feminist one! I like that romance isn’t the main emphasis here – makes a refreshing change!

  3. Meredith @ A Book Lover's Corner

    I’m excited to read this!! It seems to have a great message for everyone, as well as being a re-telling. If that’s not a win-win situation then I don’t know what is. Too bad there was no big climax or other events to break up the monotone. Great review!

  4. Lyn Kaye

    I took this one off my list, because a lot of people have been reporting this: “There was no climax.”

    But I had no idea that this was a feminist novel.

    Now I’m starting to question this decision.

  5. Amanda @ Vivalabooks

    I’ve become a recent fan of retellings and I’m all for feminism. But I need a little excitement in a book. I’m not sure this one is for me, but it sounds like a good read maybe for another time. Great review!

  6. Amber Skye

    Ummmm girl power? Hell yeah I need some of that. I was hesitant to pick this one up at first, but I might have to now… Thanks for the review!

  7. Cynthia

    Good review. I have that ARC and I have been waiting to read it. I am sorry that it was not more exciting, but I am looking forward to the feminist aspect of this Cinderella retelling. 🙂

  8. Patience @loa_daa

    From your review, Mechanica appears to be a fantastic twist of the popular Cinderella story. I mean it’s not a bad thing for a woman to be her own Dame in the shining armor once in a while.

  9. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    I’m glad the retelling was quite refreshing! Yay for feminism!! 😀 I’m so glad this book focuses on loving yourself over loving a prince. It’s such a good message to send! I’m glad this one is enjoyable and easy to read and that the characters are so likable. I guess you just gotta be in the mood for it to love it so much. Nice review!

  10. Nada Adel Sobhi

    I like the idea of a fairy-tale retelling with steampunk in the mix. Certainly creative on the author’s part. The review is overall positive with the exception of the last paragraph. I was curious how this ended up as three stars, but when you mentioned that the narration isn’t good, I realised that this would have done it for me too.
    Narration is a very important aspect in any book. I think it either makes or breaks the book. If the narration is bad but the storyline is good, some readers might not make it that far into the book to discover its positive aspects, while others might give a bad rating simply because the narration made them enjoy the book less.
    I enjoyed this review. Thanks for sharing and keep on reading 😉

  11. Brittany

    Awesome review! I realized after reading this book that it just wasn’t my taste. I still think the author is a good writer and I enjoyed the feminist aspect in the story. However, the slow pacing and the lack of dialogue really made this book significantly less enjoyable for me. I really loved Jules though, he was so cute! =D