The Foundry's Edge (The Books of Ore, book one)
By Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz
Published 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Phoebe lives a comfortable life, even if it is tinged with sadness. She is still reeling from her mother's death but her father, an important man, has provided her everything she could ask for. However, when danger arrives on their doorstep, Phoebe finds herself following her father into an unbelievable world - a world of living metal. Is this the secret her father was kidnapped to protect? Can Phoebe, along with her begrudging servant Micah, rescue him?
The premise of this book sounded really interesting to me when I came across the ARC at ALA Midwinter. I was trying not to take home too many (as my house was already overflowing with books), but I wanted to give this a try. The notion of steampunk for middle grade readers really intrigues me and I'm always looking for unique fantasy to recommend to my readers.
I wanted to like this book much more than I actually did, which is always an unfortunate situation in which to find myself. Here's my main problem with this book: it is way too long. I didn't actually get interested and invested in the story or characters until probably 200 pages in, and that's just no good. Most people are not like me; they'll quit a book if they don't feel that connection within the first few chapters. It's my sheer stubbornness that forces me to keep reading books I'm not particularly feeling. In this case, I'm glad I stuck with it, because the second half of the book is quite good. The pacing picks up, the plot develops more rapidly, and I actually started to care about the characters. Taking the second half of the book alone, I think it's quite well done. The world of Mehk is fascinating and fleshed out really well. The characters come into their own. The journey to rescue Dr. Plumm feels dangerous and important. All in all, it's quite an exhilarating book for the second half.
But that's the problem. Readers must first have to slog through the first part of the book to get to the good stuff. And it will take a very persevering reader to do so. I'm torn on whether or not I'll be back for book two. As I said, by the second half, the book seemed to have found its footing, so I have hopes that book two will hit the ground running. I'll likely give it a shot, but I'm not sure how many readers will get into this one.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.