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.
I received Ticker, by Lisa Mantchev, through Amazon's Kindle First program. The story is told in the first person narrative by 16-year old Penny Farthing who had her real heart replaced with a clockwork one by Calvin Warwick, and now waits for it to fail. I have come to understand that most Steampunk novels are set in or around the Victoria age, mostly London, and that means women wear corsets, long dresses, and are expected to live up to societies norms, including marrying at a young age. Ticker makes its own pathway into the steampunk genre with an entirely different take on the genre, and a heroine who is as bright as she is reckless.
Penny is a character who is written older than she actually is. She has nerves of steel when it comes to doing things that are way outside of normal, safe, and appropriate for a young lady of the times. Penny has had to face the reality that the women of Farthing, die at a young age, and she has no restraint in doing what she wants to do, instead of waiting for her time to arrive. I had to remind myself that she is only 16, especially when she is running around with various weapons, chasing down bad guys on motorized scooters, and going head to head with a man who is at least 4 years her senior.
Despite the fact that Penny's Ticker continues to put her on death's doorstep, she doesn't back down, or stop when it comes to going after the bad guys, rescuing her parents, saving her brother, and killing spiders used for mind control. I would not call Penny's relationship with Marcus first love, or insta-love. The fact that the two continue to spar and jab at each other constantly until later in the story, makes the romance easy to swallow and accept.
As I said in my updates, I would have liked Ticker a bit more had their been a glossary of terms, perhaps even a map of the supposed setting that this book takes place in. The Steampunk in Ticker is way over my head, and I'm not a stupid person by any means. I read steampunk regularly, and some terms are easily recognizable from other stories. Mantchev shovels so many different steampunk items into our faces, that I had a hard time not reading ahead to find out what exactly these items were.
Calvin Warwick, the scientist who created Penny's clockwork heart, is the ideal crazed scientist and villain for Ticker. He goes to great lengths to get what he wants, and I'm not sure if someone in the same situation would not have done the exact same thing.. You could say that Penny's own selfish actions, and her brothers anger towards her, lead Warwick down the road to what others would consider mental breakdown, or insanity.
Penny's flock of seagulls, aka allies, include her brother Copernicus (Nic), her best friend Violet Nesselrode, Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley a young man who is head of an organization that controls the local police, fire, and military for the country. I will agree with others that in order to make it to the very end of this story, you will need to remind yourself that this is fantasy, and therefore suspending belief like you would do while watching a Science Fiction movie like Snarknado, is necessary.
Author - Lisa Mantchev
Title - Ticker
Published by Skyscape
Released - December 1, 2014
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult
Format: Kindle, 273 pages