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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
The Clockwork Girl - Sean O'Reilly, Kevin Hanna In a land far away, two castles sit on hills separated by a plain. One castle belongs to Dendrus the Grafter, a scientist who crafted his castle as a monument to the power of nature. The other belongs to Wilhelm the Tinker, his castle a tribute to technology. The two men, yearly competitors in the Haraway science fair, have become bitter rivals after an unfortunate incident involving Dendrus's monster boy--Huxley--and Wilhelm's automaton, a mechanical man. This year, however, Wilhelm finds vindication when his invention, a clockwork girl, wins the science fair. When Huxley, the monster boy, see the girl, who he dubs Tesla, it's love at first sight.

The art is wonderful, filled with lively linework, and colored in a muted palette of grays, greens, pinks and lavenders, with bright spots of red and orange. The character's expressions convey emotion effectively and the figure drawing is dynamic and filled with strong gesture.

My reason for rating this at just 3-stars is because the story, which holds much promise, is really too simplistic. And entirely too short. The narrative begins strong with intelligent dialogue. The sweet romance between Huxley and Tesla is compelling. But the story seems to promise a deeper exploration of the conflict between technology (embodied by Wilhelm and of course, Tesla) and the natural world (Dendrus and Huxley). There's also the potential for examining what it is that makes us human, via Tesla, with her clockwork parts.

Instead, the story ignores any deeper issues and goes for an over-simplistic, far too easy ending. The conclusion feels almost rushed and one of the character's behavior--Wilhelm--feels inconsistent.

Nevertheless, The Clockwork Girl was entertaining--however, brief. Worth reading if only for the delightful illustrations.