Author: Lisa Mantchev
Release Date: December 1, 2014
Ticker is a steampunk fantasy novel that focuses on Penelope Farthing, the girl with a clockwork heart. Penelope, or Penny, is the only surviving Farthing daughter due to a heart defect that plagues the women in her family. When she nearly dies, the brilliant surgeon, Dr. Calvin Warwick, replaces her heart with a “Ticker” so that she can continue to live. However, the Ticker implanted was merely a prototype and Warwick ends up killing many people in his quest to create the perfect Ticker. He is arrested and tried for mass murder but on the day of his trial, many things go amiss. The factory that Penny’s family owns is bombed, Penny’s parents are kidnapped, and the courthouse where the trial is held is bombed, enabling Warwick to escape. Penny enlists the help of her twin brother, Nic, to help her rescue her parents and stop Warwick before he causes more havoc.
Several characters come to assist Penny and Nic in their search and I thought Mantchev brought them to life wonderfully. Marcus Kingsley, the young army general, was serious but likeable. Violet, Nic’s girlfriend, was fiery but was a good friend to Penny. Then there was the debonair Sebastian, the quirky psychic, Philomena, and the adorable Cora. I thought that these characters all seemed unique from each other and I enjoyed when each one came into a scene.
My favorite thing about Ticker is the setting. Mantchev does an incredible job of painting a picture of the surroundings and it is easy to visualize Bazalgate, the city in which Penny lives. I enjoyed all of the inventions in the steampunk setting and thought that Mantchev did a great job describing everything in Bazalgate without going into too much world building. I felt like the story moved along swiftly, but Mantchev still gave the reader a good look into the world. I think that the dialogue was consistent with the setting, but may be a bit much for someone who does not enjoy antiquated dialogue.
One thing that I did not particularly care for in this book was the seemingly obligatory love story. I thought that Penny was a very spunky character and boisterous without being obnoxious. I also liked Marcus’s character. However, their love story seemed too immediate and given the circumstances, I’m not sure if it had any place in the book. Penny is searching for her missing parents and her clockwork heart is on the verge of stopping at any moment. Marcus is in charge of the city’s entire military force, whose mission is to seek out the man who is terrorizing the city. However, both of them seem to ignore the circumstances and quickly fall in love. Because there aren’t any gaps in the action in this story, I don’t think that their love story had much time to actually develop and it felt very thrown-in.
I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending. I did not have a problem with what Mantchev did to Dr. Warwick and given his demons through the book, I think his fate made sense. However, I didn’t like what Mantchev did with Penny or Nic. The entire novel centers around Penny and Nic stopping Warwick in order to save their parents. When they finally do find their parents, their parents no longer seem important. Their parents aren’t even out of the hospital before Penny and Nic leave to jaunt off with their significant others. Saving their parents was the main focus throughout the entire book and the importance of that seemed to disappear at the end of the story. I didn’t think the ending did the book justice and I would have liked to see Penny and Nic have a more meaningful reunion with their parents at the end.
I found Mantchev’s steampunk world to be very fascinating and I love how she brought it to life. The pacing was good and there was never a lull in the action. Besides the love story that seemed to distract from the focus of the novel, I did enjoy this book.
If you have read Ticker, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view Ticker on Amazon, please click here.