‘…as long as they think we’re moving along, making cakes, everything’s fine. Smoke and mirrors, you know. Day job stuff. Down here’s where the real work is.’
(Spare And Lost Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin. P168.)
Nell’s city was devastated by an epidemic. Survivors are missing body parts. Nell’s father is the famed scientist who engineered the biomechanical limbs which changed everybody’s lives. Now Nell is coming up to adulthood, it is time for her to announce her contribution and enter society. There is pressure on her to live up to her father’s great name. If she fails to contribute, she will be sent to the pasture to live with her gran in a place free of technology.
When Nell finds a lost mannequin hand, she has a great idea. She could build a companion, an android, who will understand her completely. Is the world ready to accept the technology it rejected 100 years ago? The further Nell goes with her plan, the more she learns about her city, and her father’s past, and the plans of other young people. Nell is not the only one hiding secrets.
A gripping and beautiful Frankinstein narrative for our times. Like all great dystopias, Spare And Found Parts made me question contemporary society – the pressure to achieve in the workplace, and our relationship with technology. I found the history of Nell’s society believable. The world has fallen out of love with technology, and divisions have formed over how to rebuild society.
Nell is a great character. She feels like an outsider because while most people have biomechanical limbs, she is the only person whose insides have been replaced with technology. Lots of people are afraid of her, because they hear the ticking of her mechanical heart. Nell finds it difficult to relate to people, and part of the reason she begins her project is to build someone who understands her. She is a flawed character, but she grows and develops, and I was interested in her from the set-up.
I love the relationship between Nell and Oliver Kelly. It isn’t black or white – Nell can’t stand Oliver’s attention, can’t stand his constant interest and his refusal to accept that his feelings are not reciprocated, but he is still the person Nell goes to for advice. He has his own ideas about how to make the world a better place, and is dedicated to his project. It is difficult to say much more without spoilers, but I love what this book says about young people whose passions lie outside their everyday roles.
I love this book. It is a Frankenstein for our age, and it reflects the concerns of younger people today. It is a story about revolutions, and the time shortly before a revolution when average people take their frustration and use it to search for solutions. If you love YA, dystopia or just a great narrative you need this on your shelves.
Huge thanks to Titan Books for my copy of Spare And Found Parts. Opinions my own.