“GEARS OF REVOLUTION,” by J. Scott Savage, Shadow Mountain, Sept. 20, 2016, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
A little more than a year ago, I interviewed J. Scott Savage about his newest series for middle graders — Mysteries of the Cove. The first book, “Fires of Invention,” takes place in a world where creativity is against the law. In “Gears of Revolution,” creativity is not only encouraged, it’s expected.
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read the books yet, and you want to be surprised, stop reading here. Summary elements from “Gears of Revolution” will spoil the first novel for you. Instead, read my interview with J. Scott Savage and go get the first book from the bookstore or your local library.
Trenton and Kallista have defeated the dragon that tried to destroy their mountain city of Cove, but there are many unanswered questions. Among them: What happened to Kallista’s father, Leon Babbage? After finding a compass and clues, the duo leaves the mountain in their homemade mechanical dragon. But instead of finding the inventor, Kallista and Trenton find a blackened forest, ruined buildings and an underground city.
The two were hoping to find a large city and a warm welcome, but the people living there have different ideas. Kallista and Trenton find themselves in the middle of a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine. If they ever hope to find Leo, Kallista and Trenton must walk a fine line between the mythical and mechanical.
Though “Fires of Invention” is the sequel to “Gears of Revolution,” it feels very different from its predecessor. A lot of that has to do with setting. “Fires of Invention” takes place inside a mountain. There, we find Kallista and Trenton in their natural environment. Though the two discover hidden places within the Cove, the scope is limited. The story has a narrowed focus centered on building a steampunk dragon.
In “Fires of Invention,” the mechanical dragon is completed and Kallista and Trenton are eager to explore beyond the Cove. Though they find themselves in a new city, options are endless.
As for the new city, I found myself utterly surprised when its name was revealed to be Seattle. When reading “Fires of Invention,” I imagined Savage’s world as something new, something unknown. And while that was still true for the steampunk land he’s developed, I found it a bit jarring. I had to change what I had imagined to make it align with the world he created.
Aside from that, I found “Gears of Revolution” to be as equally engrossing as “Fires of Invention.” Existing and new characters are well developed and help move the story forward at a quick an exciting pace. Mysteries of the Cove is a strong series for middle graders or any readers who enjoy a strong steampunk mystery adventure.
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