Database Part 2

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)Stay low, retrieve the book, and mentor Kai properly are all Irene believes this mission will require until staying alive also becomes difficult. 

Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Cogman
ASIN:
B016JPTLJK

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi -> Steampunk, Mystery, Books About Books
Series: Yes; The Invisible Library

Publisher: Roc
First Publication Date: January 15th 2015 (352 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $2.99
  • Paperback $10.20
  • Hardback $35.08
  • MP3 CD $9.97
  • audiobook available through audible

Why I chose this book: 

This book has been on my ‘to be read’ list for quite a while and I have actually received a free copy of the fourth book in the series from Netgalley to read, so knowing I need to also expand on my Steampunk reading, I decided to read this book. 

Author Interviews:

Pan McMillan
Unbound Worlds

Significance:

This is the first time I’ve seen a book about this topic, and not a TV show, which I find unique. The concept of different realities connected by a library is quite outstanding. 

Awards: 

Amazon.com Best Books (Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2016)
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book List (2016)

Synopsis:

 

Irene is an agent for the Library, an organization connected to different realities and immune to time. The agents collect important pieces of fiction from these different realities to preserve books and stay connected. Her latest mission only just completed she is sent back out with a student, Kai, in tow to receive a significant copy of the Grimm fairy tales. Expecting a straightforward mission because of her extra companion, she is shocked to find herself throw into a version of London infected with Chaos, a dangerous man on the loose with connections to the library, and the book already stolen. 

Various London factions are searching and prepared to fight for the book. Irene and Kai will need to stay a step ahead of these different groups while also dealing with the strangeness that comes along with a world being Chaos-infected. In addition to all of this, Irene suspects that Kai is hiding something for her. 

Irene will need to solve the mystery while staying undercover and find the book first because it is not just her reputation at stake here, but the nature of reality itself and her very own life. 

Evaluation: 

This book is a wonderfully done steampunk novel, with not too much jargon. While with any steampunk novel there are new and interesting mechanics, this novel does not focus on them entirely and sticks mostly to the basics, with the few fun elements thrown in, such as attacking alligators. The language is not so detailed or explanation-filled to make a reader’s eye glaze over, but just the right amount, in my opinion. 

The concept is quite interesting and not the same as the TV show: The Librarians. While there are some similarities, such as people going out and collecting materials for the Library, the biggest differences are that this book has people gathering only books and they go to different realities with different levels of magic, science/technology, and chao-infection. These aspects create an interesting combination of fantasy and science fiction with characters zeppelins flying in the air, sponsored and supported by faeries. 

I also found the writing to be well done. One of my personal pet peeves is when the first book in a series feels like the first book — being more of the background and set up for the rest of the series, but this one could very well stand alone, if one didn’t mind the few little mysteries not yet solved. So, the main mystery is solved and there are only a few loose ends that will tie the series together, I’m guessing. 

There are fun characters, all of whom can be kept separate. There are a few too many side characters with little mention, whom I would forget about, but the following text would help remind who they are. Irene is a strong, smart main character, who has room to grow and learn, which we can see in the novel. Kai, is mysterious, with multiple sides, so learning about him is fun. There is also a famous private detective, who I’m hoping will appear in later books. The other female character is an agent of the library as well and of course, the rival of the main character. This irked me, because this book now doesn’t have any healthy female relationships. Hopefully the next book will improve on this. 

Other Reviews: 

Publisher’s Weekly
Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Appeals: 

London, Steampunk, Books about books, engaging writing, world-building, likeable characters, suspenseful tone

“Clues for the Future”

Dragons – stable, Fae – Chaos, Irene, Kai, book thieves, museum, cliche romance, refreshing dialogue, mystery stronger towards end, Aldrech — villain, 

Rating:

  • Quality: 4★
    The pacing did seem a bit off, slower to start, faster towards the end
  • Popularity: 3.5★
    May only appeal to certain people, but does have many reviews

Read-alikes

 The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
    This book also features secret organizations, likeable female protagonists, and magic powers
  • Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
    Both books focus on books with spies who steal books with a dash of magic in an alternate reality
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
    While this book has fairytale overtones, both have a female protagonist who travel to a different reality with magic written in an engaging way
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger
    Both book are steampunk with magical creatures included, featuring likeable female protagonists solving a mystery in Victorian London. 

Booktalking Ideas

One way to do this booktalk would be to talk about Irene’s mission. This may ne one way to start: “For Irene’s next mission for the library all she has to do is retrieve a book while mentoring a student, Kai. Simple, until she learns the book has been stolen, the person who owned was murdered, and practically all the factions of London are trying to get their hands on it. Maybe, not so simple…” 

Another way to look at this is coming from the Library aspect, explaining what the Library is and what work Irene does for it, ending with information on her newest mission and noting the obvious complications that will come with it. 

If I was to do the second option, I might also include this quote:

“We are the Library,” Coppelia pointed out. “What we don’t know, we research.” 

If I can, I would also say this one: 

Remind me why I took this job,’ Kai muttered. ‘People pointed guns at you. Right?’ ‘Yeah. Something like that.’ ‘And you like books.’ She glanced sidelong at him. He flashed a quick, genuine smile at her. ‘Yeah. That would be it.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What did you think about the reveal about Kai? 
  2. What did you think about the side characters? Do you have a favorite? Who do you think will be in the next book?
  3. The 88th story gives us some background on our villain, but also raises more questions. What might you guess the tattoo on the librarians have on their back says? Do you think Irene is connected to the story? Do you have any other questions?
  4. The Library is an interesting organization that comes creepier as the story continues. Do you think the Library might have other motives for collecting books? How about making sure their initiates do not have any family?
  5. Will you continue the series? What do you think will happen? Do you think Irene will stay in this reality for a while? 
Advertisements
Database Part 1

Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez (2015)

Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse (Lady Mechanika, #0-5)

The sole survivor of horrific experiments which left her with mechanic limbs and no memories, Lady Mechanika solves crimes while searching for her past.

Title: Lady Mechanika, Vol. 1
Author: Joe Benitez
ASIN: B06Y39X198

Genre: Science Fiction -> Steampunk, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Series? Yes

Publisher: Benitez Productions
First Publication Date: Decembr 1st, 2015 (160 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $9.99
  • Hardcover $22.33
  • Paperback $19.97
  • Comic $24.95

Why I chose this book: 

I picked this book because I was to expand my comic knowledge and this is the first one I have seen with not only a female lead, but also with a steampunk setting and a fantasy twist thrown in.

Author Interviews:

 

PipeDream Comics

Significance:

While this isn’t the first Steampunk comic, they are not written often, so that would make this one unique, especially since it has a female lead. It also has beautiful artwork.

Awards: N/A

Synopsis: 

The sole survivor of a mad scientist’s inhumane experiments that have left her mechanical limbs, discolored eyes and no memories of her former life, she takes on the moniker that the tabloids have dubbed her, “Lady Mechanika.” She solves crimes that the police cannot and helps those in need, even in the most severe cases. While she helps people and solves cases, she never forgets her main goal: to learn about her past and how see ended up at the hands of a monstrous scientist.

Lady Mechanika hears about a girl who died at the Mechanika city train station and questions the doctor that found her, only to be told of the girl’s mechanical arms, a more crude design that Lady Mechanika’s own. So, she breaks into the Ministry of Health to examine the corpse, cannot helping but feel that this girl is her first clue towards finding out about her captivity. Before she has time to steal the corpse for further examination, an explosion knocks her back and someone else steals the body.

With the help of her, usually drunk, assistant and local inventor, Mr. Lewis she will search for more clues of this girl and where she came from, but will Lady Mechanika end up getting in over her head?

Evaluation:

I absolutely loved reading this graphic novel. My biggest wish was that it had been longer so that I wouldn’t have had to put it down so quickly. This is a series I definitely will continue further.

Some criticisms first :
Sometimes clothing would be torn in one frame then not in the next. I really only noticed because I read this on adobe digital editions which is ridiculously slow when flipping the page. I also thought it could get a little wordy and the text was small — again this might have only been an issue because I was reading on my laptop. The amount of text did seem excessive at times, but since this is the first volume, I feel there should be some leeway since the setting and background story of the main characters needs to be explained.

Now, onto the awesome stuff of this story!
I absolutely enjoyed the way steampunk is done in this comic. This was not just done in the way people dress, but is also shown in the way they speak, still very Victorian, and many standards.
The illustrations are beautiful and I literally wish I could own all of Lady Mechanika’s outfits. These different outfits also made the characters feel more real, because they changed clothing, which many comics or cartoon forget or don’t do for their characters. The illustrations though I had me reading the page then looking over the page again, so I could soak in the images once more.

image found on a Goodreads review

I feel like the plot is moving along at a good pace. I was never bored with the pacing nor did I feel like things were rushed, even though the arc is finished within this volume. There is still mysteries hinted as well as the over-arching mystery of Lady Mechanika’s past.

Other Reviews: 

CBR 
Graphic Policy 

Appeal:

steampunk, strong female lead, alternative history, fast-paced, beautiful illustrations, mystery, action

People who enjoy shows from the sci-fi channel or like graphic novels may really enjoy this one.

“Clues for the Future”

steampunk, fantasy, mechanical limbs, no memories, fight on a dirigible, Lady Mechanika, Mr. Lewis (sidekick & inventor), beautiful artwork

Rating:

  • Quality: 5★
    Absolutely amazing
  • Popularity: 3★
    This one is not very well known, not even on Novelist, but I think many people would enjoy it if they knew about it.

Read-alikes:

Girl Genius Omnibus Volume 1: Agatha Awakens (Girl Genius, #1-3)Rod Espinosa's Steampunk FablesMonstress, Vol. 1: Awakening (Monstress, #1)

  • Girl Genius, Vol. 1 by Phil & Kaja Foglio
    While the art is not as sharp-edged as Lady Mechanika, this is still steampunk with a strong female lead who is solving a mystery.
  • Steampunk Fables by Rod Espinosa
    This comic also features strong female characters in a Victorian steampunk age.
  • Monsteress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu
    Set instead in Asia, this is a steampunk novel with a female lead and lavish illustrations
  • The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
    Not a graphic novel, but a novel in case that is what someone wants. A female lead in a steampunk setting, mysteries abound and plot driven.

Booktalking Ideas:

This book deserves a way to show the pictures, so I would focus on the first few pages in the prequel and Lady Mechanika. Showing off the artwork might entice some readers. I’m not confident I could read quotes from this, so I would probably let the art speak for itself.

I would also focus on the plot and the mysteries that need to be solved. I would give a few clues: the earring taken, the corpse stolen, the mechanical arms, so that the audience could begin to consider suspects as I summarize the beginning of the story.

This is one I would booktalk to single patrons or groups if I had an overhead projector or something of the sort so I could show off the pictures and the characters.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Steampunk is not a genre that we see much of in mainstream media. What do you think of the genre or how it was portrayed here? Do you think it should be considered its own genre?
  2. Lady Mechanika wears dresses on normal days, but pants when working. Even the doctor’s little girl does not believe she is Lady Mechanika because she is wearing a dress when she meets her. Do you think dresses are Lady Mechanika’s disguise, much like Superman’s glasses, or is it a way to fit in with society? What do you think about her clothing choices?
  3. Mr. Lewis is there fighting by Lady Mechanika’s side, despite his past. What do you think about this? Do you think it may be a way for him to work through his issues?
  4. What do you think of the art? Do you like this style? Do you think Lady Mechanika is sexualized at all?
  5. Many stories leave cliffhangers in order to draw the reader into the sequel. What do you think of this ending? Will you read the next book or recommend it to someone?