Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Middle-grade Steampunk Review: Farsprocket by Dustin McGee

by Dustin McGee 

Publication Date: February 9th 2013

The Kingdom of Stormgear flourished for many ages, before the events of the 7th Age brought that peace to an abrupt and devastating halt. A great war ravaged the Far North and spread corruption throughout the land. At the end, the war even reached the massive gates of the city of Stormgear, with its shining beacon of hope, the Academy, at its heart.

Though the city had already seen its fortunes fall when a plague swept through its western reaches, the defenders managed to hold back the assault, but at a great cost. With the war finally over, the city began to recover and life seemed to be returning to normal, but there are still threats lurking in the shadows, hoping to disrupt this fragile peace. Much of this danger lies in the manufacturing district in the western portion of the city, which remains a restricted area, but children regularly find their way in, to explore and discover the parts needed for their latest inventions.

It's every child's dream to become an engineer of legend and to do so they must first gain entry into the Academy of Engineering, a massive tower at the center of the city. An engineering marvel in itself, the tower has trained and nurtured many engineers through its diverse programs in various fields of engineering study. To be accepted, you must prove yourself and it’s this test that has led many a child to seek out the assortment of parts and wreckage that lie in the west.

With many of the old legends fading into history and the world just a tad darker than in ages past, it is through this search for elusive parts that a small group of children and early teens will be brought together to face this new age, together.

Though they are mostly naïve to the dangers surrounding them, they just might have the talent and heroism necessary to become legends themselves.

My Review:
Farsprocket is steampunk for the middle-grade crowd. The heroes in this story are Magnus, Vorrin, Melayna, and Cindra. Aided by their robots, Titan and Alpha, the kids decide to go on a rescue mission.

The thing I love most about this story is the humor. The author has great timing, particularly with the dialog and arguments. The non-verbal cues are also spot on. I could totally picture the faces the kids were making and it just made it all the more entertaining. The rivalry between Cindra and Magnus was hilarious. Poor Magnus.

The two robots that go along with the kids are also a hoot. They were just as charismatic as the kids, even without the ability to talk, especially Alpha, who kept turning on a certain setting despite how often Melayna turned it off.

Besides the heroic team, plenty of dangerous characters roam these pages, giving the story an exciting edge and the heroes a reason for working together. A devastating plague caused by pollution causes people to go insane, even so much as to engineer equally insane robots to wreak havoc. Scrappers, who roam the abandoned parts of the city to steal parts, are just as likely to steal away unsuspecting people to work in the mines. And corrupted robots are fueled by a dark power source that makes them incredibly strong and violent, a bad combination.

Even so, I noticed a few things that didn’t quite work for me. The kids tend to yell and shout when they’re supposed to be hiding, yet they’re never noticed. They also become friends almost the instant they meet. The story spans only a couple of days, but very quickly refers to them all as being close friends or family. Not a big deal, just seemed a bit easy.

Overall, I really liked this story. I’d recommend it to folks who enjoy kid-friendly action, humor, and robots. In particular, I think the middle school crowd would dig it.

I picked this up some time ago while it was on a free promotion. Finally got a chance to read it.