I know what you’re thinking.

Ok.’  Scratch that.’  That would be creepy.’  Let’s just say I know what you’ve thought.’  “Where oh where can I find a book with with the theological implications of His Dark Materials, the glorious steampunk of Airborn, and a great coming-of-age quest so as to appease this poor, demanding, fantasy-prone teen reader!?”

Lucky you – I’ve got the answer, and it’s our next ATB: Jay Lake’s wondrous bit of steampunk philosophy, Mainspring.

Imagine an earth that circles and spins through the heavens on great clockwork gears and tracks visible to all in the skies above.’  Now imagine a young apprentice clockmaker whose ear is so finely tuned he knows midnight by it’s sound.’  This apprentice, Hethor by name, is charged by the angel Gabriel to wind the earth’s mainspring before all of creation grinds to a shuddering halt.’  Hethor bravely undertakes this quest, despite the fact that many he meets along the way consider it either madness or blasphemy.’  He is betrayed, pressed into service on a Royal Navy airship, lost, kidnapped, and eventually must make his way over the mysterious equatorial wall to the magical southlands, where he will find love, truth, and the culmination of his quest.

Set in an alternate age-of-enlightenment British empire, Lake’s vivid world and flair for adventure are a rush, and the philosophy and religion (much of it quite an interesting’ contrast to Pullman) will appeal to more sensitive teen readers looking for a different sort of fantasy.’  Pair it up with Catherine Fisher’s tremendous Oracle Prophecies and said readers will be busy for weeks!

(NOTE:’  There is one instance of sex in the book.’  I didn’t feel it was any more explicit than’ anything in some non-accidental teen books, but I leave that judgement to you for your community.’  In any case, this book is definitely for older teens.)

Ah, yes!’  here’s your free comic:’  It’s called United Free Worlds, written by Blake Leibel.’  I can sum this up in one sentence fragment.’  “‘ Combined technological military might of earth vs.’  eight-foot-tall bloodthirsty alien warriors riding giant armored dinosaurs.”‘  If that doesn’t make your 12-year-old self smile, I don’t know what will!’  It’s still in floppies as we speak, but the book was picked up by Devil’s Due and I’m hoping for a trade PB’ in a couple of issues.

Until next time, happy reading!

About Ken Petrilli

I'm the Teen Services Librarian at the New Rochelle Public Library in New Rochelle, NY, and I'm currently co-convenor for YALSA's Intellectual Freedom Interest Group and Chair for the Baker & Taylor Conference Grant Jury. When I'm not being a librarian I'm being a heavy metal guitar player, a hopeless otaku and a general all-around pop-culture junkie.

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