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A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

273 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 2014

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About the author

Lisa Mantchev

38 books1,302 followers
Lisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. When not scribbling, she is by turns an earth elemental, English professor, actress, artist, and domestic goddess. She shares her abode with her husband, two children, and three hairy miscreant dogs.

She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009), PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010), and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.) Her Kindle #1 Bestselling young adult steampunk novel, TICKER, is available from Skyscape. Her near-future young adult collaboration with Glenn Dallas, SUGAR SKULLS, is forthcoming from Skyscape.

Her adult urban fantasy collaboration with A.L. Purol, LOST ANGELES, is now available on Kindle along with its sequel, LOOSE CANON.

Her first picture book, STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS, is now available from Paula Wiseman/S&S, to be followed by SISTER DAY! and JINX AND THE DOOM FIGHT CRIME.

Stay updated with all the fun and glitter at her author website: www.lisamantchev.com

or get your Backstage Pass by becoming a Patron: www.patreon.com/LisaMantchev

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5 stars
1,098 (17%)
4 stars
1,955 (32%)
3 stars
1,926 (31%)
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362 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 739 reviews
Profile Image for Robyn.
1,709 reviews
November 17, 2014
Kindle First Program

Dear lord, this book was awful. Plenty of readers are going to write glowing reviews about how much they just loooove steampunk and that's great. But piling a whole bunch of gears and mechanized crap all over the page does not a book make. The author wasted so much time writing mechanical horses and flying machines and bustles and 'copper curls flying loose from their hairpins' and velocipedes and all the rest that she didn't bother with any of what is important. The worst aspect was the characters. Why, exactly, do any of these people spend time together, when they don't apparently like or respect one another? It seems I'm supposed to feel Penny and Vi are best friends, I guess? Except that Penny doesn't have a kind thought or nice word about Vi in her head and Vi treats her like an afterthought at best and with no generosity of spirit considering the familial losses Penny has suffered and health problems and all the rest. Sebastian is who exactly to the family? Maybe supposed to be Nic's best friend? Except that he's really just introduced as being rich and bi and kind of a dick, and nobody else acts like they even like him or want him around, so maybe they're all just using him for access to his property? Nic and Penny are twins who were always so close? Except that Nic is a real asshole to Penny at every step. Penny, for what it's worth, is simply a bitch. She has no redeeming qualities. And apparently the author feels it's sensible to have a 16 year old meet a--what was he again, 21, I think?--strange adult male, and from the first touch of their skin the 16 year old absolutely physically throbs with their amazing chemistry, she just knows there's something there between them, so of course the most sensible thing to do is be an utter bitch to him, distrust him for no reason, be hurtful to him, etc etc etc. None of Penny's decisions make the slightest bit of sense, but why bother with legitimizing choices for your characters or making them even the tiniest bit likeable, when you know immature readers will talk about how the moronic bitchy protagonist leaping out of bed when her heart is literally in its last beats and rushing out to arm herself and infiltrate a police action on a gamblers' boat is "such a strong female lead" as if that's what strength actually is?

Seriously, this wouldn't be worth the read if I were being paid for it.
Profile Image for Rachel.
344 reviews11 followers
February 1, 2015
DNF: finished 30%
I can't do it.

It's short and free through Kindle First and I still can't do it.

I just can't do steampunk, especially not this over the top, beating you over the head with gears and brass and corsets type of steampunk.

More time is spent describing unnecessary inventions and gadgets and clothing than expanding the world and characters in any meaningful way.

Which is, in truth, a little upsetting, because I feel like there might actually be an interesting, thoughtful story here, hidden underneath all that excessive metal and leather and British-ness.
511 reviews210 followers
December 25, 2014
This book is basically what would happen if you took a pretty, sparkling snow-globe, broke and filled it with glitter, excessive words and exclamation marks in disguise.

I gave up on Ticker early on because, despite kernels of originality, it has nothing to show for in terms of world-building, characterization, or story. The writing itself is too structured. Steampunk doesn't become steampunk by stuffing in loads of contraptions and mechanical workings. Steampunk itself has an entire feel/atmosphere that has to be conveyed in writing. Moving on, the characters have great dynamic, if we're to believe our protagonist but to be frank, she herself doesn't have enough substance that we can consider her statements worth anything. There's a best friend, to-be-boyfriend, twin et cetra but these relations are in name only; the actual existence of them isn't visible on my plane.

As the story progresses, -- too fast, IMHO -- there seem to be gaping holes in the MC's own progression and order of actions, in effect making for a very half-hearted story and telling. For a finicky reader such as myself, it's simply tiring.

Thank you Amazon Children's Publishing!
Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 19 books461 followers
Shelved as 'nevermind'
December 31, 2014
DNF at 58%.

I loved Mantchev's Théâtre Illuminata series, so I was really looking forward to this, even though I don't care for steampunk.

Unfortunately, this book was long on action and steampunk details, and short on everything else. There was little overall atmosphere, almost no character development, and I had no idea what half the characters looked like. Worst of all (for me) the romance was so boring and had no foundation.

This was a huge disappointment.
Profile Image for Emma Michaels.
Author 20 books687 followers
November 5, 2014
If I hadn’t already been in love with steampunk before reading Ticker I would be now. With a girl who has a clockwork heart and a title like ‘Ticker’ the play on words was just too delicious to resist. I had high expectations, especially being a Lisa Mantchev fan, and my expectations were not only met – they were exceeded. I connected with Penny right away. I don’t know if I have the words to explain it but there was that rare affinity a person sometimes feels for a character once in a blue moon. The potent world building only helped reel me in further until I found myself falling into a story that has so much going for it, you start accepting excellence in stride. Not bothering to pause to soak in the awesome because it would mean a moment’s hesitation and you need to know what happens next.

I could go on for days but when it comes down to it, this is a story that needs to be experienced. Take a chance and dive in, you won’t regret it.

Profile Image for Aslaug Gørbitz.
Author 3 books4 followers
November 15, 2014
For those of you who don't know what steampunk means here is a definition, of sorts. Steampunk is any story which contains steam powered machines, is set in an alternate universe that loosely resembles the 1800’s, and involves lots of useful gadgets. When I think of steampunk, I think of a story exactly like this one. While not all steampunk contains clockwork, I would think most stories containing clockwork would fall under the category of steampunk. Another way to put it would be any story with the trappings of the Victorian era, without the strict Victorian mindset.

Anyone who does not wish to read about any of the above, should not read steampunk. Personally, I don’t usually like the more popular steampunk with its decaying visuals and modern mindset. Thankfully this book is not like that. This story has all that I like about steampunk and none of what I don’t like. Far from grimy walls and rusted bolts everywhere, the setting in this story is crisp and new, yet with a lived-in quality.

So many times, authors are told to dumb it down for the readers and in the process end up treating the readers, who would most like the story, like simpletons. Even more so with a genre like steampunk that is unfamiliar for many people. I applaud this author for not succumbing to that teaching. The descriptions in this book are grand and you can truly envision it all without cluttering it up with useless explanations.

I especially enjoyed the author’s ability to use the Victorian labels for things that are nowadays referred to by other names. The language used by Penny and her friends however is not very old-fashioned. That is precisely the beauty of steampunk though; it is not supposed to resemble the Victorian era precisely. Some authors use steampunk in order to be able to include people dressed in Victorian costumes, but with loose morals, as well as modern ideas of religion and politics. Refreshingly this author refrains from those clichés.

Overall, this is a wonderful story and I would recommend it to anyone, young or old, who wishes to branch out of their reading comfort zone for a few hours.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
March 22, 2015

5 Words: Steampunk, crime, bakery, life, death

I guess it's my own fault for not liking this one... It took me so long to listen to, even at 1.5x speed that a month later I was pretty bored. The story just wasn't gripping enough for me.

I think this is just a personal preference. I mean, it's jam packed with action. But... I just didn't click with this one.

The narrator was great, Fiona Hardingham did a fantastic job.

But I felt that the world building was somewhat lacking. It felt like the story started and you were supposed to know everything already, but it was confusing. And I just don't like sci-fi or fantasy where you can't understand the world.
Profile Image for Carrie Gulledge.
140 reviews1 follower
November 5, 2014
If you haven't remotely caught my interest by a quarter of the way through the book, then I just can't muster the interest to finish. There were too many nonsensical words thrown in to describe Mantchev's new world she was creating; and too little actual description written in terms that we could understand. We were thrown in to this world with the expectation that we would already have a basic understanding of how the world was set up, when we did not have the slightest inkling. I had an incredibly hard time visualizing anything that happened in this book.
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,216 reviews391 followers
February 11, 2021
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!
*one guy might be bisexual?

Lisa Mantchev’s Theatre Illuminata trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series and I don’t think that will ever change. Its whimsical tone and imaginative use of theatrical mainstays like Shakespeare’s plays (among many others) enchanted me from the very first page. Naturally, a steampunk novel from her would have much the same effect on me! Well, that was the assumption. It was as intensely readable as her past works, but like its heroine Penny, it has a bit of a defective heart.

From the first page, Ticker makes it clear you’re in for a fun ride full of steampunk aesthetics and whimsy. The tale is well-paced and Penny is a sweet, likable heroine to lead us on the journey into Industria, your standard steampunk pseudo-England. The supposed issue at contention in Penny’s world: whether Augmentations like Penny’s clockwork heart should be allowed, especially since the doctor who designed Penny’s prototype heart kidnapped, tortured, mutilated, and murdered people in order to advance his work.

That question of whether Augmentation should be allowed considering how advancements were made is a just one as the novel presents it. After all, the science of modern gynecology came about because J. Marion Sims totured enslaved black women with his experiments. He was incredibly racist and his methods were legendary levels of unethical and yet we did not abandon or outlaw gynecology the way the people of Industria would like to do to Augmentation due to Warwick’s actions. The difference is that Sims’s actions are 200 years in our past and Augmentation is in the present for Industria.

Aside from the question of Augmentation, which is only a question because of Warwick’s actions, this steampunk story about a girl with no flesh-and-blood heart has no heart of its own. The steampunk aesthetic is solid, but the rebellious, revolutionary core that puts the “punk” in “steampunk” simply isn’t there. A big ethical question isn’t necessarily rebellious or revolutionary and it especially isn’t in the context of Ticker.

The relationships between the characters are discordant in their portrayal; we’re told Violet is Penny’s best friend and in love with Penny’s brother Nic, but Violet seems merely friendly with Violet and we see nothing going on between her and Nic at all. Ticker isn’t a particularly memorable novel either. The characters run from place to place trying to find Penny and Nic’s parents, they end up on a gambling boat at some point, Warwick sends some creepy messages to get the group where he wants them, and other stuff happens. I didn’t read this that long ago and yet I wouldn’t be able to tell you much more than that about the plot!

Also, because of the international political environment right now, I regularly side-eyed Penny’s love interest Marcus, heir to Industria’s greatest private military. There doesn’t appear to be any public military in Industria, just these large private military companies. That seems like a bit of an issue and it goes unquestioned? Of all the issues I have with the US military, I appreciate that the institution itself is public, not private like the pharmaceutical company that once made pay a $70 co-pay for a month’s supply of anti-anxiety medicine.

Ugh, now I’m just rambling. But really, if this book wanted to punk up the steampunk a bit, starting with the private military that the son will inherit from the father sure seems like a good place!

Ticker turned out to be the final book I read in 2016, a year that brought some serious bull for all the decent human beings. Do I regret a book this bland being my final read in such a bad year? No, not really. I was never angry at Ticker and it let me turn my brain off. Momentarily, I forgot that a fascist demagogue is going to be the President of the United States and my life will be in constant danger. I’d say that’s something Ticker has in its favor: its ability to make you forget the rest of the world no matter how you feel about its content.
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews243 followers
December 29, 2014
DNF at 34%

Arc provided by Amazon Children's Publishing through Netgalley

I blame it on the pretty cover.
If it weren't for it, there's no way I would have requested this on Netgalley, not with the avalanche of one star ratings that this is getting!
But no...I decided to be stubborn.
Also, this explains why you only had to click on the request button to be approved. :/

Here's what I could understand from this story...
I guess it attempts to flow in that light, quirky tone of the TV series "Pushing Daisies". Remember it?
But instead of pies,and a pie maker that brings people to life, we have strange contraptions, with even strangest names!
I don't even know why I am making that comparison, because the series was GOOD.

The setting is somewhat steam-punk(ish)...I guess...at least it attempts to, but there's just not enough description, world building, characterization, nothing!
So we have strange words, and strange expressions like:

“What the blanketed codfish are these?”

"Dear Cogs"

Silly and impossible things:

The Ripley’s Personal Aethergraph strapped to my ribboned leg garter fired to life, a welcome distraction. With a series of clicks, the RiPA tapped out a message.

Defiant in the face of my fears, I marched from the room and made my way downstairs via a slide down the banister. Difficult to do when wearing a bustle skirt.
Difficult, but not impossible.

I would really, really like to see this last one up-front.

The characters are like puppets and they act and dress accordingly..
I didn't find any "friendliness" on the part of the so called "friend"..
No spark from whom I believe will be the love interest...they bantered, and now he has given her some bracelets with diamonds _also, there might have been some stalking involved _ and that makes her part of "the task force" or whatever
Some latin names are also used to the mix, just to give it that lovely and casual "Roman taste"...
The brother doesn't show any brotherly affection...well, there's some disdain, I guess, maybe because it is fashionable?
Then there's the bisexual friend who has blue hair and beard, because...in another lifetime he was a Smurf? o_O

He’d inherited his good looks, cheerful demeanor, and eye for the ladies from his father.
His weakness for infernal, newfangled contraptions and rakish gentlemen came from his mother.
Profile Image for Halle Watson.
192 reviews7 followers
June 7, 2015
This book was not good.

I usually don’t cut to the chase like that, but I had to make an exception with this one because it was pretty bad.

I feel like this author woke up on day and said “I am going to write a young adult steampunk novel.” And instead of thinking of interesting characters or a unique plotline, she just wrote a “perfect steampunk” checklist and tried to fill it out.

The list:

1. Steam-engine era setting

2. Advanced steam technology

3. Flying airships

4. Mechanical body parts

5. Mechanical creatures

6. Lots of gears and mechanisms being used

7. Everything is made out of copper or brass

8. Lots of corsets and billowing skirts

9. Evil genius villain with a backstory

This author just took all of those things—bypassing everything that makes a good book a good book—and crammed them down my throat. By the end of it, I was retching up cogs and gears and chunks of technology all over the place.

It was all just too much. This could have been a good book had there been character development or maybe even a little more world building other than brass doors with unnecessary mechanical locks and weird personal telegraph things that are NEVER EXPLAINED.

This book really got my knickers in a twist because, yes, even the girl’s knickers were explained in detail. For spending so much time explaining the tech-overload and dresses, I could never picture any of it or understand what it was all for.

I occasionally enjoyed a chapter or so of this, but mainly found it to be dull. If you love excessive machinery and fashion details that did nothing but exhaust me, then this book is for you.

If that is not your cup of machinery-brewed strong tea served to you by your half-mechanical house maid, then I would just leave it on the copper tray where it belongs.

You can find this review on my blog Big Hair Bigger Books
Profile Image for Leigh.
263 reviews18 followers
April 12, 2015
I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Steampunk continues to fascinate me with all the historical elements mixed with gears and gadgets that are ever present in this genre along with action, suspense and a touch of romance. Ticker is an example of steampunk done well in the young adult category. It has solid writing with plenty pomp and pageantry but not too much to disturb the flow of the story. The twists and turns will keep you guessing while the non-stop action will have you on the edge of your seat. What could be better than that?

After Penny Farthing's near death accident, she awakens with an augmented heart implanted by Calvin Warwick. He may be a brilliant surgeon, but his quest to create the perfect "Ticker" for Penny has cost many people their lives. Warwick's trial for mass murder sets up a chain of events that will have the Farthing family, their friends and the army scrambling to find answers. Warwick is on the run after an explosion at the court house and Penny's parents are kidnapped. Who is the master mind behind the explosion and kidnapping?

Penny may have an expiration date on her new Ticker, but she will live every day to its fullest. Her zest for life sometimes puts herself and others in dangerous situations. Warwick is the mad surgeon you love to hate. What a great combination! I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading other stories by Lisa Mantchev in the future.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,360 reviews50 followers
March 14, 2015
2.5 stars

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

A pretty cover and an original idea should be the basis of a great book. Unfortunately, Ticker failed to make my expectations come true.

After requesting this title I started to see a flow of negative reviews coming in. However, I was not discouraged by them and hoped that I would enjoy it more, as I usually quite like steam punk. The original idea was indeed really interesting, but I also have some problems with the book. It wasn't one of the best books I've read but neither so bad as the one star ratings the book is receiving.

I admit it was quite of a slow start, but I tend never to give up on books and I felt like it became better. You're just completely thrown into the story at the start that I didn't have a clue as what was going on and why, and who are all these characters anyway?

Penny has a bad heart. To stop her from dying, surgeon Calvin Warwick invents a mechanical heart for her. At the beginning of the book Warwick is on trial for his life after it has been discovered that he experimented on (and killed several) humans to create this 'Ticker'.

It's really weird, but all the while it felt as if I was reading the second or third instalment in a series rather than a standalone. There's so much reference to the events leading to the ticker being installed in Penny that it feels like there's a book about it I should have read. But according to my best knowledge it truly is a standalone novel. (I normally really appreciate if not everything is spit out literally in a story, but this just made me feel lost and was confusing). Probably this was why I didn't connect with any of the characters and the world didn't feel real (or very steampunk for that matter; it was just loads and loads of metal basically).

I'd liked to get to know more about the back story, since that seemed really interesting. The story in Ticker was okay but not as special or original as I had hoped. You must be wondering now why I wanted to give this book 2.5 stars, but it's because despite the fact that it obviously has quite some flaws I did for one reason or another enjoy reading it.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Full review to come.
Profile Image for James R.
246 reviews7 followers
December 25, 2014
I'm not a member of the young adult demographic. I only have a passing familiarity with modern steampunk culture. Steampunk to me means Jules Verne. Also I've never worn a corset - wrong gender and body type. Yet, despite all these deficits, I really enjoyed this book. It was a page turner that captured my attention start to finish. Having said that I admit I had to suspend my disbelief almost constantly, but found that easy to do and once I did I was able to enter an interesting world full of delightful surprises and wonders. The following were two of the highlights of this work for me. The central character was a person of integrity, courage, ingenuity, intelligence, leadership and she was unapologetically feminine. She was a person to be admired and looked up to. Importantly in her world no one questioned that or considered her the rare exception. Gender equality was assumed and celebrated. The author confronts her readers with a world where feminism is the accepted norm. A major theme that drove the storyline, which is and will soon be central in contemporary society, is the bioethics of human organ replacement. In this story the technology is clock work driven mechanisms; in ours it will be stem cell replicated organs. We are just on the verge of use of this technology and the debates will rage. I think Lisa Mantchev is a genius and forward thinking in using her story to introduce this discussion to young and older readers alike. Although she presents a point of view, there is plenty of room for discussion. I hope teachers will pick up on this and use this book as a tool to encourage conversation among their students. And if adults don't take the lead here, I have no doubt young adults and older children will take advantage of the opportunity. I also found the characters to be bright, interesting and engaging. Even though not all elements of the plot captured my interest equally, this smart, modern, timely story is well worth the reading. And I imagine that Jules Verne would have loved it too!
Profile Image for Berls.
1,028 reviews38 followers
April 16, 2021
DNF - it has potential, but I just couldn't get into it. I read to 28% and that took me a LONG time because I just wasn't interested. The cover had pulled me in, but maybe I'm just not a steampunk girl? I've only read maybe 1 so far that I truly enjoyed. So if you like steampunk, I'd say give this a try - it has all the gadgets and mechanical stuff that marks that genre and some interesting characters.
Profile Image for Stuti.
446 reviews71 followers
November 1, 2015

Let it be known that I love a little weird in my novels. That was why Lisa Mantchev’s Théâtre Illuminata series appealed to me so much. I was very excited for Ticker, because steampunk has always intrigued me. But this? This was a very sad sad face.

I’ll start with the good. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the world of Ticker. Clockwork horses, velocipedes, and novel advertisements place it firmly in industrial boom. But though you can tell it’s deep, I feel like the important questions about the setting weren’t really answered. What are the Ferrum Viriae? At first I thought the city of Bazalgate was pseudo-London, but it’s not the capital of the empire. They use ancient Greek currency (denarii, aureii) and I wasn’t sure if that meant it was an alternate history thing or a completely different universe. There’s very little about the Great Beyond, while most steampunk novels explain the aether or whatever it is that allows these people to have technology way beyond what we had circa 1800. Also there’s so much new technology introduced but there’s absolutely zero explanation for the way most of it works. I hate to say this, but it sounds like a blunt attempt to fit into the steampunk genre without bothering to explain any science.

The characters didn’t really stand out to me either. Penny has good lines, I’ll admit, lines that made me smile, but looking back on it, she felt rather like a puppet for those bursts of wit. Nic was an absolute enigma. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the Nic-Penny dynamic—they’re supposed to be close but he ‘blames’ her, he deeply resents her, in the beginning of the novel they’re a bit nervy around each other. Not the kind of close family bond that Penny had implied. Violet too seems like a hollow bundle of spunk, and Penny seems to spend more time with Marcus than her best friend. Where was the indication that Vi and Penny were best friends? We just had to take Penny’s word for it. Marcus didn’t feel original to me either. Very duty-bound YA male lead, etc. etc., like These Broken Stars‘s Tarver without the punch and depth. Although of course this isn’t as serious a novel. But several of these characters have gone through very traumatic experiences, and their personalities didn’t seem to reflect that. I liked Sebastian, but (again!) the person Penny said he was at the start of the novel was very different from the person he was. He’s introduced as Nic’s best friend, a troublemaker. And by the middle he’s apparently a ruthless businessman? I felt a bit cheated with him, as though I was introduced to one person and then an entirely different character acted all that out. (And not because of the plot.)

The romances? Forced. Violet and Nic felt very unnecessary. Literally, without them being involved the story would have progressed much the same, and without so much added angst. Marcus and Penny were another thing. Penny’s instant connection when they meet kind of made dread pool in my stomach. Thankfully the lurve toned down later, and they don’t kiss until much later, but I was still shaken from that first meeting. The love-at-first-sight plot isn’t one I’m fond of. Lisa Mantchev gave me a very sweet response when I expressed my concerns about it on the Twitterverse, but…still not buying it. If Penny really felt a connection to Marcus, I think it ought to have been expressed better not in her inner monologue, but in her interactions with him. Why did she treat him à la Elizabeth Bennet? I just didn’t get it.

I really wanted to like this book. I originally gave it a 3.5 until I started writing this review and realised I couldn’t really find things to give it that high a rating. The dialogue was nice, if a bit contrived, and the world was nice, but I can’t say anything more than ‘nice’. Disappointing.
Profile Image for Aparajitabasu.
666 reviews75 followers
January 28, 2015
Original Link to the review at my blog Le' Grande Codex - here


Steam powered dirigibles, clockwork gadgets and nonstop action. This is Lisa Mantchev's first tale since Theatre Illuminata and this is my first time reading her work and it proves her prowess with words quite well..... Of course I haven't read the Illuminata series yet, I have them and I am definitely going to read them soon .... because this has everything I love in Steampunk and add to it the non-stop action it was a must.

Penny Farthing and her clockwork heart. Afflicted with the same rare genetic heart disease that took her sisters, Penny on the other hand got the timely augmentation of a clockwork heart that has kept her running till now but she knows that her ticker is on its last legs. The only one who could help is about to face court because of illegal operations on kidnapped innocent bystanders.

Penny is our protagonist, She is easy to like. She is honest, intelligent, brave and quite brash. She lives in an alternate society, an era of history that has apparently achieved equality for women. She is also resourceful and leader-like, so that's a few more positive adjectives to her list ... and she likes collecting clockwork butterflies. She is moralistic enough to the distinction between good & evil.

Romance can be found also within the confines of the pages. Between Penny & Marcus and her twin Nic & best friend Violet but thankfully they don't overpower the story and its not insta-love for the lead pair, so we can breathe a sigh of relief. As far as the steampunk part is concerned, the story is actually quite jargon heavy, but Mantchev balances it out by trying to explain what the contraptions do. Mind controlling spiders, mechanical augmented organs and floating fortresses not withstanding, I would have definitely loved a glossary at the end though.

Although a few instances still remain unclear but all in all I loved this book very much. Lisa Mantchev's play on words was definitely the highlights. Instead of using heavy Victorian English (like many authors do) she used easy to understand common tongue with Victorian touch, beautifully incorporated the steampunk-iness tot he lot and served us a full-fledged action adventure page turner ..... It goes on and on without stopping, just how I liked it. Of course Calvin Warwick's part as the antagonist could have been a bit more profound but 'Ticker' is a world onto itself and this experience enthralled me very well.

"A non-stop enthralling and action-packed page turner"
Profile Image for Terri.
134 reviews2 followers
November 19, 2014
Got it for free through Amazon. As others have said, too contrived. Made it about a third of the way through, and then switched to something else, as I didn't care about any of the characters.
Profile Image for Diane .
222 reviews
April 23, 2019
At times a little hard to follow however, with the alternate universe 1800 setting once you settle into the story it's self it's... interesting.
Profile Image for Sara.
850 reviews61 followers
July 25, 2015
I received a free copy of Ticker by Lisa Mantchev via Amazon's Kindle First program. I don't read a lot of steampunk - in fact, this might be the second steampunk novel I've ever read - but I found the premise of a girl with a clockwork heart more intriguing than any of this month's other offerings.

I'll start this off by saying that while Ticker isn't marketed as being super steampunky, it is. The gadgets are thrown at you until you're fed up with the very idea of technology, and then a few more times just for good measure. Because, in case you've forgotten in the last three sentences, this is a steampunk book, remember? Steampunk. Steampunk. Steampunk! You didn't forget, right? Okay, good. It's steampunk. Have a clockwork horse or something so you don't forget.

I wish that Mantchev had put as much effort into developing her characters and their relationships as she did into developing her gadgets. While the world is pretty solid, the characters are only weakly connected. The romance is barely hinted at before it becomes A Thing. The bad guy is almost laughable. The events are so disjointed that I actually thought I'd missed huge sections of the book. Even Penny's illness seems contrived, when one moment she's out running around town and the next she's confined to bed for days, unable to eat or move.

Maybe if steampunk was my genre of choice, I'd be able to forgive the messy writing. But as it is, Ticker was highly disappointing.

[see more of my reviews at The Bibliophagist]
Profile Image for Adriane.
420 reviews14 followers
October 21, 2018
I was having a discussion with a friend recently where I essentially said "steampunk is an aesthetic, not a genre" nothing proves this point more clearly than this book. everything has cogs and brass but there is no explaination on how anything works not even a flippant "its magic" there are even mechanical butterflies and bugs that come from the wild somehow but are crafted out of metal.

the main plot itself doesn't even make much sense, if you can get beyond the fact that the main character is a human with a heart condition that had a metal clockwork heart installed to pump her blood (that she actually has to wind occassionally or she dies!!) that also manages to react to her moods like an actual heart instead of just pumping like a machine would, the bad guys motivations sinply dont make sense.


So the bad guy is the doctor who installed her original heart, he has been murdering people in order to perfect and even better heart. but the thing is he didn't need to do so in order to invent the original heart and his motivations dont detail how he managed to do that without being a serial killer but since it worked he now needs to be one? There are just so many holes in this one bit alone. couple that with the fact that none of the characters are especially memorable or likeable it just wasnt very good.

at a couple of parts I rolled my eyes so hard I thought I was gonna sprain my neck

The Audible performance was really good, ita probably the only reason I made it through the whole book, and its absolutely the only reason the book has 2 stars
500 reviews2,413 followers
Want to read
September 4, 2014
Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars was brilliant! Clearly, Mantchev's writing + steampunk = awesome. This book will be awesome.
Profile Image for Cee.
969 reviews221 followers
January 12, 2015
Ticker is Lisa Mantchev's first novel since 2011 and her Théâtre Illuminata series. It's a standalone book in a contraption-filled steampunk world, following a girl with a clockwork heart. Penny, like her two deceased sisters, has a rare heart condition which turned out to be nearly fatal for her as well. She receives a mechanical heart from a brilliant scientist - who turns out to have experimented on many people to a deadly outcome.

If you're looking for a quick and fun romp through a steampunk world, Ticker is your book. It's easy to get into, and it's filled to the brim with the most unlikely steam-powered gadgets someone can think up. Some items include augmented body parts, mechanical beetles that crawl into your ear and mind-control a person, a flying army base, boxes that hold cake that open after a certain amount of time so your appetite won't get spoiled, and, weirdly, mechanical butterflies that are collectible. In a way the world is rather shallow. Most of it is shown through name-dropping, and hardly any attention is spend on explaining how something like it would actually work. Ticker has very little science - which is a good thing for people that aren't used to steampunk and just want to read a good story. My only gripe with the world was the fact that there are apparently mechanical butterflies flying around that can be collected. Why? WHY?

Ticker reads like one endless adventure. There is hardly any downtime between plot points, and the downtime that is there, is used for character development. It's very much plot-driven and things just keep happening. It helps that the book is on the short side, so there is no time to get burned out. The plot twists are never too out there that it's hard to keep track of what's happening - many scenes involve fighting, running away, or tracking other leads.

My biggest complaint is that I didn't find the main premise interesting or gripping enough to fully get into Ticker. Penny's Ticker is showing signs of doing quits (which would result in her dying), and meanwhile the villain escapes from prison, her parents get kidnapped, she gets betrayed twice, she falls in love with an army guy. Add explosions and motorbike chases, and you have this book. It all seemed rather bombastic to me, and I felt very little for the main character's problems. I can hardly blame the book for having a love interest, but it did make me shake my head. Truly, when all of this is happening, why is she falling in love again? It didn't distract from the plot all that much, it even moved the plot along. I just wish YA books existed where the main character doesn't fall in love.

If you like gadgets, chases, action, combined with some family drama and a smidgen of romance, Ticker might be the perfect book for you.
Profile Image for Aneta Bak.
420 reviews103 followers
January 6, 2015
“I am more than a pretty little windup doll.”

Penny is the first person with a clockwork heart. Due to a hereditary heart condition and a fatal accident, Penny's heart stopped working. Doctor Warwick managed to install a brass ticker that works as a windup heart. But when her doctor is locked away after being accused of murder, her family's factory blows up, and her parents get kidnapped, Penny makes it her mission to find her parents and uncover the truth.

Ticker is such a creative and hilarious novel. There were many parts that made me laugh and fall in love with the characters, but I also found some parts to be a little confusing and rushed, especially near the end.

Penny is a fantastic character. Even with a heart condition, she isn't afraid to go out and live life the way that she wants to, not how people tell her to. She is witty and adventurous. You can't help but fall in love with her, and some of the things she says.

This book was a fairly short read, but there was tons of action that kept you on your toes. I would have loved to see the author slow down a little in the action heavy parts of the story and add more detail but other than that, I found the book to be almost flawless, and very entertaining.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to people who love Steampunk and kick ass characters. Even thought this is a fantastic stand alone novel, I wish that it was a series so that I could read more about Penny's adventures.

Happy Reading,
Profile Image for AudibleBlerd.
104 reviews20 followers
June 18, 2015
So, I'm still scratching my head over this one. I feel like I'm missing a couple of details, but I may have just missed them (audiobook). However, I enjoyed the plot and the writing style. There was a small slump at around 75%, but then you're right back into the action.

The good:

It's different - I was expecting steampunk and got super futuristic Victorian gaslight steampunk with a lot of gadgets.

The MC was a strong lead character - she was also a bit gung-ho, but I'll take that over a dying swan any day of the week.

The bad:

Lack (or perceived) lack of information - I have no idea when this story takes place. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's a pet peeve of mine. There are definite Victorian elements with some modern phrases, but the story takes place in Industria (which I truly believe is an island that is separated from a larger land mass by a channel of water).

Apparently, the MC is 16 years old - Before reading this (not in the book), I thought she was about 20. It's only 4 years, what's the big deal, right? Legal age for starters. The romance is completely inappropriate if she's 16. Can anyone say nepotism? Her twin brother has an office at her parents' factory.

Believability - cops bringing civilians in on their cases is one thing (shove that disbelief to the side), but underage civilians? Giving them weapons and letting them volunteer as bait? My Belief-o-Meter just broke down.

Despite my complaints, I really did like this book and would like to give it another listen. 3.5 stars that I'm rounding up for being so nitpicky.
Profile Image for Talk Supe.
1,261 reviews91 followers
December 7, 2014
As Steampunk as it can get, TICKER is a good enough story with a curious premise and curioser characters. The thing is it sorely lacks character development and the pace is too fast. if there's such a thing but it felt like that to me.
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