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Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove) by J.…
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Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove)

by J. Scott Savage

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This middle-grade reader is everything you’d expect it to be…which is both good and bad.

It’s quickly paced with lots of interesting activities undertaken by the protagonist (a boy) and his inventive friend (a girl). While the author earns kudos for giving equal the mechanical abilities to the girl along with a heaping serving of intelligence, it’s odd that she isn’t the main character. She is the one who creates the mechanical dragon that will free their society from their imprisonment (both physical imprisonment underground and their society’s imprisonment to a government that lies to them about why they’re underground)…so why isn’t she the main character?

The boy spends a lot of time ducking his parents and other adults who might cause trouble. But other than that, he isn’t the primary active party here. The book therefore seems to move in fits and starts. Readers miss out on a lot of what goes into building the mechanical dragon, and instead have to follow the boy around during his days while he thinks about things. And we all know what happens to a reader’s interest when the characters start thinking about things and stop doing things.

3 stars.

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  Laine-Cunningham | Oct 4, 2016 |
3.5 stars. This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

Oh my goodness, this book reminded me so much of the City of Ember books! But it's like an even more dystopian, futuristic sort of City of Ember, with all sorts of crazy restrictions added on to the already bleak top-down governmental control system. I think it's a pretty cool, out-of-the-blue version of the

The first time I saw the cover, I thought Fires of Invention looked like one of those little-kid books my brother used to read (I think the series was called Beast Quest?), you know the type - there are about a million of them, about two-hundred pages long, with just about the same recycled plot in every single installment. This is why I initially wasn't too eager to pick up Fires of Invention. But then I read a review that praised it highly and compared it to the City of Ember books, and I knew it wasn't anything like I'd originally thought it was. I put in a request for it at the library, and read it over the course of a few days during my break time.

I can't say I was incredibly wowed by the story (I actually didn't like the twist it took at the end - I'd have preferred something a little more realistic), but it was definitely much better than I'd first thought it would be. I think I'll stick with my beloved The City of Ember, but I can definitely see a lot of kids getting really into this more steampunk version of the scenario. The books of Ember revolve more around the remains of a battered humanity, struggling to thrive and learning important lessons about human nature along the way. The Mysteries of the Cove books take a completely different angle, focusing on the suppression of creativity (conformity is "safe") and the crucial role invention must have in order for humanity to thrive. For us to get better, the book argues, we must adapt. And to adapt, we must invent. I wholeheartedly agree with this (though maybe not so much with the need for lots of big, gas-guzzling machines to run everything), and I think the message was relatively well-buried. It could have been a little less obvious, but then I suppose this isn't the sort of book that needs to be that subtle.

I'll definitely be recommending this to kids I think might like it - starting with my own middle-school-aged brother, who will probably agree to reading it based on the cover alone. I'm not absolutely in love with it (I was . . . less than excited by the turn things took in the end), but I still really like the premise of the city of Cove, with its crazy restrictions and distorted heritage, and I hope the series fleshes out more of the themes it began in Fires of Invention. If it takes the turn I'm thinking it will, though, then I don't know if I'll continue it - there are so many series about AAA* that I can read.

*And by AAA, I mean something that I can't tell you because it's a spoiler. If you've read the book, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
My Thoughts:
Oh, boy, another dystopian series! But this one has a male protagonist, and there’s no real love triangle. Okay, Trenton does have this girl that he’s had a crush on forever, and she does finally start paying attention to her, and he is working with Kallista. But it’s NOT a love triangle. Well. Maybe a little bit.
I enjoyed the thought-provoking aspect of a society that had stopped inventing new things, and which forbade the telling of stories. Nothing creative is allowed. Imagine how stifling that would be. I may be biased, because I am driven to create—sewing, knitting, writing, cooking—and I imagine I would be pretty miserable as a member of this society.
Trenton definitely feels that urge to create, or at least to improve existing technology, but he also wants to be a good citizen, especially to please his mother, who survived a mine accident and seems to carry some pretty deep emotional scars.
Kallista is a difficult character—very prickly and somewhat hard to like at first, but there are reasons for that. Eventually, Trenton overcomes that, and they work together.
I struggled somewhat with how careless Trenton was about his lawbreaking as he worked with Kallista to solve the riddle that her father left her. Of course, he is 13 years old, no prefrontal cortex and all that, but he seems very casual about his activities.
Naturally, the two teens solve the mystery just in time. I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that they save the day, since this is the first in a planned series.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and I will follow up with others in the series.

Possible Objectionable Material:
Some violence, some intense scenes, particularly at the climax. Oppressive government. Teenage lawbreaking. Disagreements with parents. No swearing, no romance beyond teenaged puppy love.

Who Might Like this Book:
Trenton and Kallista are both strong characters, and, while Trenton is the protagonist, Kallista’s journey is almost equally important, so this book doesn’t skew to one gender or the other. Anyone who likes creativity, invention, steampunk, and the fight against an oppressive society. Aimed at middle grades; I’d say age 10 and up. Older readers need to be able to enjoy YA/middle grade literature. Approximate Lexile: 730

Thank you, NetGalley for the advance reader e-book. ( )
  swingdancefan | Jan 12, 2016 |
FIRES OF INVENTION by J. Scott Savage is the first book in the Mysteries of Cove steampunk series for the middle grades.

Set in a dystopian world where creativity is a crime, thirteen-year-old Trenton is constantly in trouble for what he considers as helpful and harmless mechanical projects. When he meets a repair technician who shares his passion, they set off on an adventure involving mysterious clues, secret inventions, and discoveries that will change their city forever.

Librarians will find readership among fans of The Books of Ember and other series focusing on dystopian underworld societies. It’s also a good choice for those wishing to enter the world of steampunk. Although there’s nothing particularly compelling about the series, its combination of dystopian and steampunk themes along with the promise of more dragons will keep readers coming back for more.

To learn more about the author, go to http://www.jscottsavage.com/.

Published by Shadow Mountain on September 29, 2015. ( )
  eduscapes | Oct 15, 2015 |
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In a city where creativity and inventiveness is considered illegal, what do you do with an inquisitive mind? Welcome to the hidden city of Cove.

In J. Scott Savage's first installment of his Mysteries of Cove series, Fires of Invention,  we're introduced to Trenton Colman, a curious 13-year-old boy who loves anything mechanical. He knows that he can make the machines that run the city of Cove, hidden away from the outside in the center of a mountain, but the only problem is that creativity is considered a crime in Cove. The city was built inside the mountain to escape the dangers that technology created in the outside world, so everything that deals with how Cove is run and managed is very carefully regulated, and anything that is considered an invention is against the law and the inventor is subject to "retraining".

Immediately at the opening of the book, Trenton in trying his hand at building a mechanized swing, thinking that this can't be that bad. However, when it appears that Trenton's creation causes a power outage in the city, his punishment to fix the problem leads to the discovery of a tool that he is unfamiliar with. Instead of giving it up to the authorities, he decides to try to discover what its purpose is, which leads him tp Kallista Babbage, the daughter of a disgraced inventor. Together, they start to piece together the clues that Kallista's father left her and begin to assemble the machine that is unlike anything seen in Cove.

I think this will be a great book for kids. Filled with plenty of action, mystery, and great characters, Fires of Invention is a great blend of a dystopian and steampunk world. The plot continues to develop at a nice pace as we discover each clue along with Trenton and Kallista, and I think kids will really be intrigued to see how the story unfolds. I'll definitely be checking out the next book. ( )
  tapestry100 | Sep 23, 2015 |
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Even though technology and inventions have been outlawed in the mountain city of Cove, in order to save the city Trenton and Kallista must follow a set of mysterious blueprints to build a creature to protect them from the dragons outside their door.

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