Brownbetty's Reviews > Tinker

Tinker by Wen Spencer
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's review
Dec 15, 09

Read in December, 2009

This book is about a girl whose grandfather creates her from her dead father's frozen sperm, and then names her "Alexander Graham Bell." Amazingly enough, it is not about her quest to track him down and exact revenge, or about her traumatic youth; she considers her childhood to have been excellent, and only goes by 'Tinker' because she follows the elven custom of not giving away her name lightly (and because, really, she's a Tinker.)

The world of Tinker (both the book, and the girl, now that I think of it) is defined by the fact that nearly two decades ago the Chinese opened up a gate in orbit that opens on another dimension. What they didn't anticipate was that the portal would cast a shadow; on the opposite side of Earth, a section of Pittsburgh was thrown into that dimension too, and that dimension is Elfland, or "Elfhome" as the locals call it. The geopolitical consequences rocked both worlds, but Tinker's lived on Elfhome longer than she's lived on Earth. The gate is shut down every twenty days to allow the Pittsburgh residents to stock up on things Elfhome can't provide, like microcircuits, and coffee, but all in all, Tinker's perfectly happy on Elfhome. She's more a native there than of Earth, runs her junkyard with jury-rigged magic and tech, and is fairly fluent in Low Elvish.

Then she and an elf, Wolf-who-rules-the-wind, are thrown together, and shenanigans happen, some of which the reader will see coming.

The thing is, this book was mad scrambling shenanigans, but it also includes some horrific torture and rape. I would say neither of topics are dwelt-upon, and the book knows they are horrible, but Tinker is only eighteen, and it was hard for me to see her dealing with those kinds of things, even as she's being sucked into inter-dimensional politics. If it had been, for example, Cordelia Naismith at forty, it would have easier. Even though Tinker seemed to make it through mostly unbroken, I kind of think she needs an Aunt Cordelia to help her develop the emotional resources.

On the other hand, you can see I came through this worrying about the characters' mental and emotional health, so it is quite engaging.

(I would like to congratulate the author on not using any of the tinker-related puns that occurred to me while reading this book.)
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