Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Paperback ARC, 298 pages
Published by Clarion Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Synopsis: Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.
I went into this book with very low expectations because I have read a lot of retellings based on Cinderella and have yet to find one that I like (*hides from the Lunar Chronicles fans*). That being said, the beginning of the book initially grabbed my attention with Cornwell's pleasant writing style and with how close this particular retelling stays to the Disney movie version of Cinderella. Unfortunately, my enjoyment didn't last long. While Cornwell can generally write well, Mechanica barely includes any dialogue. For me, dialogue is crucial, so Mechanica lost big points because of this.
In addition, this book is very predictable beyond what is expected in a fairytale retelling. I'm a huge notetaker when it comes to reading and reviewing books. When I finish reading a novel and have taken a lot of notes, this means that I either really loved the book or really hated it. For Mechanica, I only had one note from very early on in the novel in which I guessed what the book's big reveal would be (and I was right).
For long periods of time, this book didn't seem to have any plot. I had to schlep through huge sections of Nicolette going about her daily life, which made me put the book down on more than one occasion because I was just so bored.
Lastly, I really didn't like the ending. I love the idea of Cinderella—or in this case Mechanica—being her own woman and having her own goals and dreams that don't necessarily include Prince Charming. However in this case, I feel that it doesn't fit with the plot. Here's what happens: Mechanica is in love with Prince Charming, except he's in love with another girl. At the end of the book, the three of them are just kind of "together" . . . but, not really. It doesn't make a lot of sense, and it left me feeling extremely unsatisfied.
Even though I'm rating this book very low, I don't hate it. In fact, I wouldn't be against reading another book by Cornwell because I think her writing style has a lot of potential. I can't say that I regret reading Mechanica, but I do wish that I had pushed it down farther on my TBR.
1) Betsy Cornwell is a good writer. Even without dialogue, she is able to describe the characters and paint a well-rounded picture of all the details of the plot in a beautiful manner.
2) Jules is so adorable. I don't even care that he is a robot. He is my favorite character in this book.
1) Lack of dialogue. The characters are often in a scene together but barely speak. Dialogue is crucial for character development and its absence made the characters flat.
2) The ending. As I said, I love the idea of Cinderella wanting more to her life than just marrying Prince Charming, but it just didn't work here. Yes, Mechanica had a great future ahead of her with her career and her friends (which is nice) but I wasn't pleased. It just didn't seem to fit with the story.
3) I didn't expect the ending because to me it doesn't make sense with the plot, but I did anticipate the big reveal extremely early on. Prince Charming meets Mechanica way before she realizes it's him, but as soon as he showed up, I knew exactly who he was.