A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ink, Iron, and Glass is the first book in a planned two-part series by scientist, science fiction writer, and first-time novelist Gwendolyn Clare. Set in an alternate-universe, divided 19th-century Italy in which Garibaldi's unification efforts failed, it's a clever mashup of genres (steampunk! science fiction! historical fiction! gaming! virtual worlds!) and well-worn themes (teens who don't know each other forced to work together; being the new kid in school; villains bent on world domination; fictional characters rising against their creators...) into an exciting, snarky read with a ripple of romance, a hefty dose of science, life lessons aplenty, and a cliffhanger ending. There's a bit of romantic tension and two intense kisses between the 16-year-old protagonists; also a lot of violence, from politically power-mad assassins to swordplay, stabbings, and mechanical monsters. A teen character drowns his sorrows in wine and pays the price with an epic hangover. Occasional "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "bastard."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As INK, IRON, AND GLASS opens, 16-year-old Elsa is looking forward to more responsibility for her native Veldana, a "scribed" (authored) world her scriptologist mother has succeeded in making independent of its Earth creator and enhancing ever since. But after her mother is abducted and her work stolen, Elsa travels to Earth to get her back. Landing in an alternate version of 19th-century Italy, she quickly finds herself in the Casa della Pazzia, an unusual (and sentient) dwelling where the Order of Archimedes keeps "mad" kids, i.e. those with genius skills in scriptology, alchemy, or mechanics, to keep them safe from the Church, which wants to kill them, and ambitious political leaders, who want to use their skills to grab power. Elsa, it turns out, is good at all three specialties, which makes her a really big target. It's a lot for her to take in, even without tragic, good-looking Leo in the picture.
Is it any good?
Clockwork bugs, swordplay, alchemy, flamethrowers, monster machines, virtual reality, politics, romance -- you've seen it all before, but rarely in such a genre-bending gallop to the cliff's edge. Ink, Iron, and Glass takes readers to a steampunk-ish 19th century Italy where history's taken a different turn, an arch-villain has his own plans on the subject, and a girl from another world finds herself dealing with romance in this one:
"He was like a fine piece of clockwork that had been carelessly dropped too many times, the delicate gears jarred apart so they spun and spun but never connected. Broken. ... Oh, how she itched to open his chest and set the gears straight again. The thought surprised her; she'd often felt the urge to fix objects, but this sudden desire to fix a person ... where did that come from?"
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stories where fictional characters interact with real ones, as they do in Ink, Iron, and Glass. What's the appeal of this device?
Ink, Iron, and Glass speculates about what would have happened if Garibaldi hadn't united Italy in the 19th century. Can you come up with a story about how things might be different if a particular historical event had gone a different way?
If someone came to our world from a virtual or fictional one, what do you think they'd find hardest to deal with?
- Author: Gwendolyn Clare
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, History, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Imprint
- Publication date: February 20, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 4, 2020
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