Thursday, September 1, 2016

ARC REVIEW: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage (Mysteries of Cove #2)

by J. Scott Savage
Mysteries of Cove #2
Shadow Mountain Publishing
Available: September 20

4/5 stars
PG for some fantasy violence
Recommend for anyone who likes steampunk or dragons or steampunk dragons

The Review
[There will be SPOILERS of the events from the first book, Fires of Invention.]

When last we left Cove, super-mechanics Trenton Coleman and Kallista Babbage showed their underground civilization that the outside world wasn't a poisonous death trap of technological pollution. They proved they had been lied to for years. They also proved that inventing wasn't a sin and that machines could be used for great and wondrous things. They learned the true name of Cove -Discovery, once a haven for scientists and inventors. They even killed the dragon that attacked their city.



That was the other little secret they uncovered.

Then they managed to kill the dragon that attacked their city.

Now, Kallista is determined to find her father, the eccentric and brilliant inventor Leo Babbage, who escaped the city and left another puzzle of clues behind for her to follow. With Trenton's help, they follow Leo's path aboard their majestic mechanical dragon Ladon to a far off city called 'Seattle', dodging dragons of the scales and blood variety along the way.

You're sold on this already, aren't you? I don't blame you. I love, love, LOVE this premise so. freaking. much.

While just as much of an adventure as Fires of Invention, the intrigue for Gears of Revolution really kicked it up a notch. Plus, Savage delves even deeper into the 'steampunk' culture with the introduction of the Whipjacks -technological superior social outcasts with fantastic accents and slang- and their charismatic leader, the 'dimber damber' Cochrane. (Oh yep. Loving it.)

And once again, Savage regales us with new inventions and throws in some political and social discord for Trenton and Kallista to contend with -because obviously dragons aren't enough of a challenge for them. Gears also takes the world on a darker turn, because the city Trenton and Kallista find next is more brutal, more savage. (No pun intended*) This Seattle has a survival-of-the-fittest mentality unseen in the peaceful Discovery and it's interesting watching Kallista and Trenton deal with this unpleasant jolt of reality. It adds a new angle for them and I like the affect it has on their characters, coming from a city where everyone has enough to eat to seeing a place where some have to resort to desperate methods just to keep from starving.

Kallista and Trenton are still awkwardly adorable, since they both relate far better to machines than people (especially each other). They are learning to interact better (which, again, is adorable) but they still need some work on their dealings with others. Which is part of the fun!

Kallista comes a little into her own in this sequel. Up to now, she has been dutifully following the clues left behind by her father, but I like that we see a touch of perhaps not exactly resentment, but the idea that these games her father loved to play aren't exactly her cup of tea. I like seeing this side of Kallista and I'm excited to see where it takes her from here.

One thing I mentioned specifically in my review for Fires of Invention was the portrayal of Trenton's mother, who disapproves of the machines Trenton loves so much, and of the complicated relationship between them, and I have to say, I love it even more in the sequel. Since they reached a better understanding of each other last book, Savage successfully starts deepening their relationship and I love watching every minute -even though there aren't very many! (Next book, maybe. Next book...)

Fires floored me with the reveal of dragons, and Gears wowed me with the further depth of this world. Whereas Discovery had hidden away from the reality of dragons, the city built from the remains of Seattle designed a religion around them. (Whoa is right.) The Order of the Beast is exactly what it sounds like. The core of the religion is a worship of the 'holy beasts' and its role in society is basically the peace they claim to have brokered with the dragons.

I would have loved to see The Order of the Beast explored more within the story; I'm a worldbuilding nerd like that. We do get one of these 'Red Robes' as a prominent character and I devoured the tidbits of this whacked out religion he fed us. He also raised some very interesting -and uncomfortable- questions about the nature of dragons. And Kallista is uncovering questions about the dragons on her own. The deeper Savage takes us into his world, the deeper we see the story go and I love this progression!

There a couple of great new characters in this book. Aside from the aforementioned Cochrane, head of the motley eccentric Whipjacks, we also get Ander -a member of the dragon-worshiping Order of the Beast who has questionable motives- and Plucky -a young Whipjack with awesome mechanical leg braces who has questionable motives. You might be sensing a theme here.

But even with all this fantastic new content, one of my very favorite moments in this book actually involves old faces, specifically Mr. Darrow and his son, Angus. It's not much of a spoiler. So I'm going to tell you about it.

As you might recall, Angus isn't much of a fan of Trenton and Kallista. He's actually a bit of a bully, just like his father. Angus has always intrigued me, though, and he's one of the characters who really stuck in the back of my mind. There is a moment in Gears when Trenton finds his path blocked by Mr. Darrow and this happens:
"You're a coward and a fool," Trenton yelled as he ran past. "And one day, your son is going to realize it."
Remember that Trenton isn't much of a people person; I don't feel like this line is spoken out of spite or even that Trenton is lashing out. This is just the truth as Trenton sees it.

So why am I so hung up on this? It's a tiny moment. A single line. It's never addressed again and, to be honest, Angus and his father are barely in this story, so it's not that important in the grand scheme of things. But I'm really excited to see the aftermath of this single line. Because it makes me realize WHY I'm so interested in Angus Darrow. This kid has a great core. He has good instincts and qualities -like wanting to protect his people at all costs and vehemently opposing any threat- he just has a bad example in his bully father and has been taught too many lies.

What Trenton says here is painfully true. It's exactly why I'm chomping the bit for book 3. Because some day Angus IS going to realize it and that might very well be the day a Great Character is born. That's a day I want to see.
So, Angus:
I loved how Savage ended this book. It's an epic finale and I cannot wait to get my hands on book 3. Gears of Revolution, with its new setting, new characters, and whole plethora of dragons has been a blast. But it's also a build up. The deeper we dive into the world of this series, the closer we get to the really meaty question, and it is waiting for the answer to that that has me on the edge of my seat.

Overall, it's a fantastic continuation to the series and even more fascinating than its predecessor. The whole time I was reading this, my big recurring thought was: I can't wait to see how that unfold next time!

Oh, right. Did I mention that blessedly beautiful AIRSHIP?

An ARC of this ebook was provided courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review

*Okay. Pun totally intended.


  1. Loved your review for Gears. I think it was my favorite so far, for alot of the reasons you gave.

    1. It just keeps getting better! Thanks, Brenda; now we just have to wait for the next one...