Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Me on Spare & Found Parts

Title: Spare and Found Parts
Author: Sarah Maria Griffin
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society's good... but how can Nell live up to her father's revolutionary idea when she has none of her own? Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy's hand she's ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Spare and Found Parts is at times enchanting and other times frightening, a cautioning against relying too much on technology and a welcoming embrace of it. Of the multitude of things it can show us, teach us. It's a story of a lonely girl searching for a companion, searching for answers. Looking to make her mark on the world.

Nell is a quiet and lonely girl who resents the ticking in her chest. She's looking to make the decisions when it comes to her future before anyone else does. Trapped in the shadows of her accomplished parents, pioneers in contributions that helped save the town. More than a hundred years after the Turn, after the pulses that swept across the land and made so many sick, there are only so many options Nell has when it comes to the future. She can go away to the Pasture, a place of quiet and without the chance to experiment. She can marry, which is a thing that makes her sick, especially to someone like Oliver Kelly. She can head to the stoneyard, build up the statue her mother first envisioned. Or she can contribute something to the community, make something of herself, something the town needs. But what can she contribute? Her tinkering can only go so far with secret batteries and no codes. She needs something more, wants something more. But can she make a companion, a person, a human soul, out of spare parts?

The reader is set down and eased into Nell's world, a world that's come out of our own. A world without higher technology, without computers, after a devastating apocalypse that left many dead and most of the living scarred. Now people must contribute to society, must do something that will boost morale or provide for the community. Something without the use of computers than can think for themselves. You can see the pokes taken at the modern day and its obsession with technology, with creating a machine that can do the work for you. The pokes at the lack of human conversation and interaction that screens and the Internet can provide. But technology isn't all evil.

This is like a steampunk-esque post-apocalyptic futuristic reimagining of Frankenstein and his creation in a world that fears technology. I think this book nudges towards finding the middle ground between technology and humanity, between creating and advancing and not moving away from human contact. And I think Nell's search for a companion, her desire to build one, is her way of having someone in her life that doesn't expect anything from her. It'll just be, be there to be with her, to talk with her and share with her, and make no demands. Some of the later chapters have a certain charm brought on by a certain character. And the last chapter made me chuckle. I would definitely recommend this to readers looking for something a little different, like Leah Bobet's An Inheritance of Ashes or Moïra Fowley-Doyle's The Accident Season.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

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