Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.
Why would you write a book summary that makes a book sound like a romance? This drove me nuts the entire book because while Spare and Found Parts was interesting (at times, I’ll get back to that) it’s more of a coming of age story and learning to be independent of what defines you. Nell is a girl with a clockwork heart whose father practically saved humanity. She constantly struggles to relate to people and, as a result, is a rather isolated individual who is more than a little haughty. Nell’s exploration of herself is the focus point of the plot, but there is this kind of hazy romantic tone that hangs over the whole story that just leaves an unsatisfying feeling when the story ends. This also really isn’t a summer read, it can be pretty dark at parts and because the novel plays on gender roles and romance it’s more for reading in bed or curled up in a chair than at the beach, so it is good this book is coming out in October. Perfect Fall feeder.
The characters vary in quality because you don’t know enough about them until the very end of the story. I didn’t end up liking Nell until the end because I didn’t realize how much she changes through the course of the novel. At points my eyes ended up skimming over huge chucks of paragraphs because I simply did not care what Nell was thinking. Yeah, fun fact: a solid 60% of the novel is Nell thinking to herself and descriptions of the setting and it’s about as much fun to read as it sounds.
Nell also has a small circle of friends, but some of them are just sort of there for plot devices. Nell’s best friend, Ruby, is the archetypical best friend so she’s not exactly interesting but harmless. The “romantic lead” is kind of interesting if you don’t guess his big twist, but again he’s pretty harmless.
Okay, so why didn’t I give this book five targets? The narrative is a little jarring and I get what Griffin wanted to do, but certain themes did not completely transfer off the page and it felt awkward. Finally, this book is good for all ages and if you like steampunk, Spare and Found Parts is a dream, although the world really isn’t explored enough for my taste. It’s more of a tone than a setting. There is exactly one non-binary character in this story, not a huge deal but worth mentioning. Great book for the budding feminist in your life or anyone who needs a palate cleanser from predicable romances.