Thursday, August 27, 2015

Author Spotlight: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM


Shanna Swendson earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas but decided it was more fun to make up the people she wrote about. Her contemporary fantasy Enchanted Inc. series has been published around the world. She just launched a new contemporary fantasy series, beginning with A Fairy Tale, and her young adult steampunk fantasy Rebel Mechanics was a July release from Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. She’s also contributed essays to a number of books on pop culture topics and spends too much time discussing television on the Internet. Visit her web site at www.shannaswendson.com.

Title: Rebel Mechanics
Author: Shanna Swendson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication: July 14th 2015
Cover Rating: 5/5


I have read quite a few Historical Fiction young adult books over the past 2 years. Some with magical elements and some without. But one thing I have noticed about ALL of them is that they are either woefully slow and agonizing or they are extremely interesting and keep your eyes glue to the book. Care to guess which category Rebel Mechanics falls under? If you chose woefully slow and agonizing... you would be very wrong. I always have that initial weariness when starting a book like this and I am glad to say that the weariness went away quickly.

Oh how I loved Verity. She had this air about her that most women from the late 1800's wouldn't have even dared to have. She was confident and independent and that just made me adore her. Did I mention she was intelligent? Such a rare thing to find in that time period especially hiding within such a young woman. The only thing I didn't like was in the beginning of the book she seemed sort of indifferent towards her fathers way for raising and educating her, leaning more towards dislike. Her father gave her an excellent education and a great chance at a better life and she just seemed to not appreciate it. Or, at least, that't the feeling I got from her. I think that he may have known her secret and was just trying to protect her while giving her an education and her best chance at a normal life.

Throughout the entire book I found my self constantly wondering how different the world I know would be if one little part of history had been different. This book is definitely a great way to get you thinking about life. The alternate world this book presented was Magic vs Steam Engines. While I love the progression in technology I can't help but wonder if things like The ozone layer and Global Warming would be a thing if magic really did exist. We wouldn't have as many gasoline powered things ruining the world.

I didn't like Alec from the start. I don't know what it was but I felt like he was using Verity. I think he might have been attracted to her but his truly love was the cause and his machines. I also got a funny feeling from Lizzie too. I think the entire Rebel cause just didn't feel right to me. It was amazing that they all believed in something to strongly but some of their morals and procedures just didn't sit right with me. Especially the part with the children. They KNEW something like that would happen. UGH.

I DID like Henry though. There was just something about him the struck me as innocent even though he wasn't. He seemed like a beautiful human and I kind of was rooting for something to happen between him and Verity since he was first introduced. He was a great gentleman he was so different from all the other Magisters. 

I think I can say that this was my first Steampunk type book and I really enjoyed it. I do own a few others but for some reason the whole idea didn't appeal to me much. But I might try the others now that I had some decent success with this book. Also, I think the one thing that has stuck in my mind since finishing this book was the version of Yankee Doodle. Although it was an alternate world it was pretty great to see something I know popping up. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.


1) What made you want to become an author?
I've always loved books and loved to read, and ever since I was a very small child, I've entertained myself by making up stories in my head. When I was about 12, I realized that I could write them down and I'd have a book. That was when I decided I wanted to be an author. I'd scribble stories in spiral notebooks and then go to the library and read through the Writers Marketplace books to learn about publishers.

2) Where did the idea for Rebel Mechanics come from?
I've been a fan of Victoriana for a long time -- I like Victorian architecture, am fascinated by the clothing, love the books from that era, and am drawn to that general air of elegance. When steampunk came along, I was fascinated by the aesthetic that added a sense of adventure, and I wanted to write something in that vein, but I didn't have any story ideas. Then one day, I was looking at my bookcase and saw my copy of Jane Eyre next to a romantic adventure book, and then I remembered something snarky I'd once said about books starting on a journey needing a robbery to make that kind of opening work, and something in my head just clicked. So I ended up writing a story about a governess with adventures that included a train robbery in the opening scene, and it all built from there.

3) What do you think the current world would be like if magic really existed?
I wonder if we'd have our current level of technological development if we had magic -- but if we had magic, would we notice the difference? We might be doing the same things, but doing them in a different way. I suppose a lot of it depends on who has magical powers or access to powers.

4) Which do you prefer? Men from the 1880's-1920's or men now?
I think I'd enjoy the manners of men from the past, but that would have come with some pretty extreme sexism in a lot of cases. So maybe what I'd like is a modern man who has somewhat old-fashioned gentlemanly manners.

5) Would you rather be magical or be able to build machines?
I think I'd have to be magical because I'm useless at machines. I tend to think of machines as magic, anyway, because I don't much care how they work, just that they do.

6) If you had to choose between walking barefoot where ever you go or never writing another book again as long as you live which one would you choose? and why?
That's an impossible choice! I hate going barefoot. I don't even go barefoot at home. I always wear socks or slippers. But I make my living writing books, and I suppose I'd rather go barefoot and work at home writing than have to get a regular job.

7) Doritos or chocolate chip cookies?
Chocolate chip cookies! Mmm, chocolate ...

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