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Spanners: The Fountain of Youth

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The average human being lives from 0-80 sequentially. Spanners don't.
These rare beings have different lifespans than the rest of us. Some live their lives in reverse, some live only six months, and some are immortal. There are hundreds of classes of spanners that live hundreds of different ways, and each class has a unique lifespan that gives them unique powers.
A few spanners find a way to live in normal human society, but most live in the shadows. There are some spanners that are extremely dangerous, and with the help of a mayfly-class spanner, an 8,000-year-old detective named Adam Parr is doing everything he can to keep them under control.

The Fountain of Youth
When one of Adam's old adversaries uncovers the most powerful and deadly spanner in history, it's up to Adam and Mayfly to take her back before she unleashes her full power and ends the world as we know it.

376 pages, Paperback

First published June 3, 2013

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About the author

Jonathan Maas

24 books321 followers
Jon Maas was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Stanford University with degrees in Biology and History, he's earned a living as a Musician, Peace Corps Volunteer, Standup Comedian, TV Producer and Web Designer.

He has published ten books, and has more on the way.

He has also directed the movie 'Spanners' starring Shawn Christian and Eric Roberts, and wrote its sequel book - 'Spanners: The Fountain of Youth.'

He writes on his bus commute to and from work, and has a soft spot in his heart for all types of Public Transportation.

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5 stars
41 (28%)
4 stars
56 (39%)
3 stars
23 (16%)
2 stars
15 (10%)
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7 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,567 reviews176 followers
December 22, 2016
'Spanners - The Fountain of Youth' by Jon Maas is about a group of human-like beings called 'Spanners' who live on different timescales to us - some can live hundreds of years, others die young or age very quickly. Most live with us but some hide away. They all have their own unique special powers or abilities.
Since I enjoyed Jonathan Maas' other novel 'Flare' I knew I'd enjoy this book, it is well written and although probably better suited to adults I do believe a younger generation would enjoy this too. It's a fast paced entertaining novel that's very imaginative, dark, violent and exciting. I was particularly drawn into the attack by the spider-wolves and felt the terror at being trapped in the RV! The characters are brilliant with some fabulous names (Berserkers, Millennials, Scourges etc), I particularly liked Balthasar who seemed to fight within himself with doing the right thing and following orders.
I would highly recommend this book to lovers of sci-fi/fantasy superhero books, these are not my normal type of reading genres but I certainly enjoyed it all the same and will definitely be looking to read more by this author. I'll also be watching 'Spanners' the movie starring Shawn Christian based on the book. A well deserved 5 stars.
Profile Image for G.G..
Author 4 books235 followers
July 11, 2016
Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Reviews are encouraged but not required. I decided to review this book on my own accord.

Spanners: The Fountain of Youth should please any one who is a fan of superhero type stories. We follow the story of two groups of spanners: one who wants to destroy the world, while the other wants to stop them.

I won't go into details but I liked that while I was totally against the villain's idea, the author wrote a plausible story. I could still somewhat understand their goal. So while Juan was bad, in his deranged mind, it made sense.

So that leads me to the characters. It's hard to develop characters in a setting like this, but I think the author did a good job. As mentioned earlier, we do get into Juan's mind. Balthasar, was probably my favorite on the dark side. I like the way he struggled between accepting his leaders view and knowing the way to achieve it was wrong.

For the good group, my favorite had to be Mayfly, a spanner with a short life span who has an IQ of 350+. Don't take me wrong, Adam was a good MC, but I guess I have a soft spot for the underdogs.

Overall it's a fast read with a great story and great characters.
Profile Image for Rasma.
74 reviews
December 20, 2017
It is like X-Men if X-Men had history and Imortals

If X-Men had a more evil immortal Ponce dé Leon and a living tree that's what this book is except more awesome than X-Men. You ask how can anything be more awesome than X-Men well read the book and find out!
Profile Image for Birgit.
1,110 reviews11 followers
July 1, 2015
This book was kindly given to me by the author - thanks again.
Spanners - humans with super powers of different kinds are everywhere on earth, some living among normal humans, some hiding in remote areas. A handful of them have to work together to save The Fountain of Youth from the clutches of an evil spanner, and thus save mankind.
A good plot, likeable characters (even the evil ones), and a good narration style - this had everything to make it a really good book, and I quite liked it, but for some reason I did not take to it the same way as Mr Maas' other books I have read, Hellenica and Flare. Whereas with those I found it hard to put the book aside, escpecially with Flare, I did not have that problem here. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but to me the story sometimes dragged a bit - a very personal feeling, I know. Maybe it was the plethora of spanners with a multitude of different abilities and life spans, I suppose I just got confused a bit with too much information? It did have everything I like in a book, just not that little bit extra that makes me crave to continue reading.
On the other hand, I can quite vividly imagine seeing this as a film, and one I would love to watch, too.
In summary, in my opinion, a good read, but not quite as good as Hellenica and Flare.
Profile Image for Crystal Gillespie.
29 reviews3 followers
July 10, 2015
This book starts with an interesting premise - that some individuals live different lifespans than the average human. It then goes on to explore the choices made by those who cannot die, both good and evil.
While I liked the ideas in the book, I think some of the plot points could have been explained better. Overall, a fun and easy read!
Profile Image for Sarai.
36 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2015
Not what I was expecting

This wasn't the story I was expecting but I really enjoyed it love to see more from this world good job.
Profile Image for Seregil of Rhiminee.
591 reviews42 followers
May 6, 2014
Originally published at Risingshadow.

Because I enjoyed reading Jonathan Maas' first novel, Hellenica - City of gods, it was interesting for me to read his second novel, Spanners - The Fountain of Youth. In my opinion Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a surprisingly original and enjoyable novel, because the author uses the legend of the Fountain of Youth as a basis for his story.

It's easy to see that Jonathan Maas likes writing and storytelling, because Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a fast-paced novel that's pure entertainment from start to finish. His approach to science fiction feels refreshingly different, because he has created something new by combining modern science fiction with old legends. He also uses a few dark fantasy elements that add an interesting flavour of darkness to the story.

I have to mention that certain elements in this novel reminded me of many well-known and popular superhero graphic novels and films (X-Men, The Fantastic Four etc). These elements also reminded me a bit of the Highlander films and their storylines. I think that fans of superhero graphic novels and films will be delighted to read this novel, because the author uses many superhero elements.

Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a novel for adult readers, because it contains dark happenings and violence. It's possible that young adult readers will also enjoy reading it, because the story is good and entertaining, but I recommend it to adult readers.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

Balthasar has gathered a group of young spanners, because only young ones can be recruited and will fight and die for the cause. He and his group are searching for their leader in the Florida swamp. Their leader has been locked in a casket for a long time. He's an immortal spanner called Captain Juan Ponce de León. He has found the Fountain of Youth and intends to use the Fountain's powers to his own needs... Adam Parr, an immortal spanner, has spent time in India. He visits the Sentinel Islands meets Diego, who is Juan Ponce de León's brother... This is the beginning of a thrilling and fast-paced science fiction story that's full of action and surprises.

Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is basically a story about saving the world and humans, but it's also a story about accepting who and what you are, because the characters have to deal with their choices and decisions. Because the characters are different from other humans, they live their lives in a different way and they make different decisions and choices.

Jonathan Maas has created an interesting and fascinating vision of beings who are called spanners. Spanners have a totally different kind of a life span than normal human beings. There are many different classes of spanners and each class has a unique lifespan that gives them unique powers. The author reveals new and intriguing things about different spanners, their classes and their powers as the story advances.

The cast of characters is as versatile as in the author's debut novel, which is very nice. I enjoyed reading about Adam, Balthasar, Juan, Phoe and Mayfly, because the author wrote about their lives in an interesting way and slowly revealed more things about them.

Here's a bit of information about some of the characters and their powers:

- Adam Parr is an immortal spanner and a detective, who's 8 000 years old. He has lived a long time and has experienced a lot.
- Adam's sister, Phoe, is a phoenix-class spanner. Phoenix-class spanners always come back to life when they die.
- Mayfly belongs to a class of spanners who easily attract girls. Mayfly-class spanners live only six months.
- Balthasar is Juan's steward. He's always served Juan and done what Juan wants him to do.
- Drayne is a scourge-class spanner. She takes lifespans away.
- Blur is a blur-class spanner. He lives his life at a different frequency.
- Cannon is a tweener-class spanner. He's stuck in puberty and has high levels of testosterone in him. This makes him incredibly powerful, but difficult to control.

I'll mention separately that the Fountain and the Surgeon are especially interesting characters. The Surgeon can modify the body in many ways and the Fountain has amazing powers that surpass the powers of other spanners. Both the Fountain and the Surgeon play an important part in the story.

It's interesting that immortal spanners can't be killed, but they can be buried alive. If an immortal spanner has enemies who wish to get rid of him/her, all they have to do is to bury him alive, because it's an efficient way to punish and deal with immortal spanners. At this moment I don't recall reading about this kind of burials and punishments in science fiction novels, but I remember seeing something similar used in one of the episodes in the British science fiction TV series Torchwood.

It was intriguing to read about the experiments conducted on different mayfy spanners, because they were collected and kept in the compounds. They were treated brutally and in an inhumane way. In my opinion the author writes about these things in a good and fluent way, because he doesn't dwell too much on them.

I can also mention that reading about the Wild Place was fascinating, because it's a place where spanners have fled or have been banished because of their actions. The spanners founds in this area differ greatly from other spanners in terms of behaviour and eccentricity.

One of the best thing about Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is that the author knows how to keep the story flowing all the time. There aren't any dull moments in it. Jonathan Maas writes surprisingly well about the action scenes and the fight between good and evil characters. The conflicts and fights between Adam's group and Balthasar's group are handled well, because both groups have their own goals and will do almost anything to achieve what they want - Adam tries to save the world with his friends, but Balthasar helps his leader, Juan, to destroy the world as we know it.

The best thing about this novel is that there are many different spanners in it. I enjoyed the story very much, because reading about the different spanners was exciting and entertaining. I've always enjoyed reading about beings who are different from normal human beings and have powers that others don't have. I have to admit that the amount of different spanners mentioned in the story was a surprise for me, because normally authors tend to write about a limited number of different beings. Fortunately Jonathan Maas has had more enthusiasm, ambition and willingness to write about many different beings than other authors. If he had written about only a few different spanners, it would've significantly weakened the story.

The only noticeable fault that I found in this novel was that different places and areas weren't described in a detailed and lush way. Because I enjoy reading about lush and detailed descriptions, I missed them in this novel. Fortunately, in this case the lack of detailed descriptions isn't a bad thing, because too many descriptions might have ruined the story and would have probably added unnecessary length to it (there's so much going on in this novel that lush descriptions might not have worked in favour of the story).

This novel gives a new and interesting twist to the legend of the Fountain of Youth. It was fascinating to read about the history behind this legend and what Diego, Santos and Juan Ponce did in Florida. I've read a few speculative fiction versions of the legend of Fountain of Youth, but I have to say that this is probably the best and most original version I've read to date. By the way, another interesting version of legend of the Fountain of Youth can be found in The X-Files: episode 5X04, written by Frank Spotnitz.

Readers who enjoy reading this novel will be interested in knowing that there's also a film called Spanners - The Fountain of Youth (written and directed by Jonathan Maas). I have to admit that I'm intrigued about this film and consider watching it when it will be released, because I think that this story will work well as a film.

It's possible that this novel may split the readership to those who enjoy reading it and to those who don't like it, because different readers have different opinions about entertaining science fiction. I've noticed that there are readers who tend to regard entertaining novels as inferior literature, which is a shame, because entertaining novels like Spanners - The Fountain of Youth are good escapism (at times entertaining speculative fiction causes interesting reactions in readers). I personally enjoy reading this kind of entertaining science fiction and understand its entertainment values, because it's very relaxing to forget everything else for a while and read a good and exciting story.

Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is an entertaining combination of science fiction, old legends and a few noir elements. It will appeal to all readers who enjoy reading entertaining and fast-paced stories that are full of intriguing moments and surprises. It will also appeal to readers who are interested in superhero stories.

My final words are: Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a fast-paced science fiction novel that offers good and exciting entertainment for readers. Good entertainment!
Profile Image for Syd.
124 reviews2 followers
April 17, 2015
I received a free copy of this book through a goodreads first reads giveaway.

I really wanted to like this one. Sounds like an AU earth with a hidden section of society that has super powers/abilities? Sign me up! At times this book did give me a slight X-Men/mutants uniting to save the day vibe. And I always love it when a book's plot connects to various points in history. But it wasn't enough to win me over.

The storytelling was just too plain, more like a script or a detailed outline than a finished novel. The dialogue and characters were rather flat. Everything (including key parts of the plot) was plainly stated in a bare bones way. There's no subtly, progressions of the plot were suddenly cut and dry dropped in conversations between characters and that was it. The Spanner world is lacking as well. And what information is given is done in an information dump style. None of the characters have very defined personalities and their relationships to the other characters are too thin as a result. Balthasar is annoyingly stupid...seems like every time Juan tells or explains something to him Balthasar says he doesn't understand which leads to more information dumping. None of the characters seemed to know anything. Juan didn't know how he was going to take over the world (he was in a box for hundreds of years and didn't work on that plan?) Diego, as well, knew nothing. He infers and hints but won't share what he does know or suspects with Adam. And Adam who has been alive for at least eight thousand years is more like a confused

A few sentences in the book bothered me. The "mien of an ordinary African-American" sounds like when someone is trying to avoid being accidentally offensive and just ends up making the situation weird. It feels like an awkward way to let the reader know Blur is a POC. "Four men carrying a body" Drayne is a woman, yes? It's a small detail but it made me go back to make sure I wasn't missing/confused about a character. And what was the use of leeches in keeping their blood from clotting? The blood is being taken from the girl by severing her veins and then being collected in a vat over a week's time? I'll admit I've never attempted to drain a human being of blood but that blood would have coagulated before then and they would have had a hell of a time dipping their arms into it. I don't see how it would have worked and mentioning leeches just made it more confusing.

I liked the overall struggle of the story, and some of the points that were raised by characters trying to figure out what and why they were fighting. And I would seriously like to know more about Adam's life and his family's history. The idea of this world is interesting but the book didn't work well enough as a story.
Profile Image for Joseph.
104 reviews4 followers
August 15, 2016
This book is yet again another testament of the brilliant artistry of Johnathan Maas. His ability to weave several story lines into 1 book amazes me. Spanners: Fountain of Youth, is a book about a group of individuals who have been granted specific abilities outside of the average human being; some live briefly, 30 days or less, but within that time can learn and achieve more than an entire nation combined. Some Spanners are built with the strengths of 10 men, some control fire and others can take your life with a single touch. Some Spanners have been granted immortality and with that burden a clear and concise memory of every wrong done and evil action to ever exist alongside them.

This is the story of one such immortal and his plight to not only save the collective human race, but the Spanners race as well. An evil has been awoken by the name of Juan Ponce de Leon and his aim is to destroy all life with the exception of a handful of his fateful follows and reduce the earth’s population to 10,000. While I’ll admit some of his ideas are interesting, just the thought of eliminating, rather exterminating nearly 7 billion humans is completely ludicrous. de Leon was buried for nearly 500 years and for good reason, he’s a complete lunatic.

Detective Adam Parr is on the prowl to gather as much information about de Leon and a mystical Spanner called, “The Fountain” as quickly as possible before the other side can gain an advantage and beat him to the punch. Along the way Parr meets some very interesting characters, he is reunited with his long lost sister [daughter?] and a myriad of other characters to fight the good fight for the sake of both Humanity and Spanners alike.

Once again Maas has managed to question age old ethical choices in treatment towards one another, dabble in the morals of rights and wrongs and even deliver a well thought out history lesson to his readers. This beautifully written book did so well it was adapted for the screen in a feature length film that was both written and directed by Johnathan Maas.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Joelene.
101 reviews5 followers
December 2, 2014
It takes a chapter or two to fully understand the characters and to get to know them (not a bad thing) but I found once I got into that and knew who was who and figured out what was happening, I loved this book! It was one of those few that could have gone in really any direction and I didn't have the first clue which one it was which made it that much more alluring and made me want to read more and pick it up more often then I was able to.
I enjoyed that it was a different take on the world then I've ever read before which made it that much more amazing! I also got to know the charchters to the point where I felt like I really knew them and I could feel their pain and understand some of the things that they were going through because at the same time, it pulled me into a real world with real people and real problems and I enjoyed every minute of it.
To my surprise, because I didn't realize it, they are making a movie about it which I found out after I finished the book and I looked up the teaser trailer and it looks liek it will be just as awesome as the book! I will def be seeing it, and I'll def be recommending Jonathan Maas to my friends and will be reading his other book and watching for more to come out so I can read those too! He's a nice fresh breath of reading air! If you haven't read this book yet, do so! :)
Profile Image for Patiscynical.
283 reviews2 followers
March 23, 2015
What a long strange trip it's been

Spanners live in vain.
Scanners are a group of human-like beings that live on different timescales than us. Some live among us, some hide from us.
I had my doubts about this, that the author could pull it off, but it is very well done. He makes the spanners seem real, that they could exist. He makes them believable.
Adam is a spanner that has been alive thousands of years. An immortal, who is drawn into a fight for the planet against Ponce de' Leon, an immortal who has been buried 500 years.
This is a fairly epic tale, well written, and quite enjoyable. Adam's character seemed to repeat himself a bit early on, but his story settled down, and I was too enthralled to notice later.
Results: you should read this. It's not your average sci-fi novel. It's one of a kind.
Profile Image for Charles Ray.
Author 418 books140 followers
November 5, 2015
Adam Parr is a detective, but a detective with a huge difference: he’s 8,000 years old and he specializes in dealing with a special kind of case. Parr’s cases deal with people who do not age like the rest of humanity—called, Spanners, they live on a different time scale than the rest of us.
When Parr learns of the presence of the most powerful Spanner of all, and that individual’s search for the Fountain of Youth, he realizes that he must stop her in order to save the world.
Spanners – The Fountain of Youth by Jonathan Maas is a hard book to categorize. Is it science fiction, fantasy, or a mix of the two? It is an interesting story, with a few surprising twists that you’re not likely to see coming, and I won’t spoil the book by even hinting at what they are; you’ll have to read it and see for yourself.
Bottom line, I liked it.
Profile Image for Kagsy Wagsy.
108 reviews5 followers
February 24, 2015
I really enjoyed reading Spanners and allowed the story to unfold without the complication of having to understand the linear time element. Although a cliche save the world type story there were surprises along the way, enough to keep a relatively non sci-fi fan interested. Well written, with enough good description where needed. I think this book would appeal to readers from all age groups - well done Jonathan

I received a copy of this book through a book club I am a member of in exchange for an honest review
12 reviews
March 7, 2015
It's an interesting story. You can see how each person believes is doing the right thing. Both good and bad believed to be heroes in their own world. As some want immortality and others do not mind living too. I would have liked to see a little more of the final battle but, in general, been a good book.
Profile Image for Nickisha.
111 reviews4 followers
August 23, 2015
A coming of age tale for lovers of sci fi

Jonathan Maas, manages to capture the human experience even in the unlikely landscape of superhuman immortals. Teenage angst, middle-aged crisis and finding one's purpose is addressed in the race to stopping the end on the world. While fighting spider wolves, berserkers and a mad man in a quest for power.
Profile Image for Melanie Wilson.
114 reviews
May 15, 2016
Took me a few chapters but once that far I had a grasp of what was happening. Sure wish I could find "The Fountain of Youth"
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and hoping for a second.

I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway.
871 reviews11 followers
January 2, 2015
The characters are inventive, the ideas original, and the story was interesting.
I received this book from Good Reads.
Profile Image for Amanda Gilliatt.
54 reviews19 followers
March 8, 2015
This book is great, to start it gives details of a few the characters,great adventure book,i love the character mayfly,it will defiantly be a book I will read again.
Profile Image for Peter Bradley.
908 reviews52 followers
March 22, 2020
Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote - https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...

I came to this after watching the movie "Spanners." The movie and the book sharply diverge from each other, although some of the same characters - Adam, Phage, Mayflie and Gereon - are common to the two books.

In the book, the immortal Juan Ponce de Leon is freed from burial in the swamps of Florida. It seems that Juan, as he is known in this book, discovered the Fountain of Youth and the secret of immortality, which he then bestowed on his fellow adventurers. The Fountain turned out to be an immortal Arawak girl. Juan murdered a lot of Arawaks to get to the Fountain, which caused his trusted lieutenant, Balthasar to decide that Juan was best entombed. Five hundred years later, Balthasar has come to regret his decision. Balthasar frees Juan, who re-embarks on his mission to control the Fountain and rule the world.

It turns out that Juan and Balthasar are "spanners." A spanner is anyone with an unusual life span, something which is defined to include not only the immortal but anyone with any kind of mutant power. Each spanner belongs in a class with its own power and weekness. Mayflies, for example, are super-smart but live for only six months. Phagge class spanners are immortal but have no immune system and are eternally sick and carriers of sickness. Phoenix class spanners resurrect life after life but almost always have a bad love affair which causes them to self-immolate.

And on and on.

This story fits best under the "urban fantasy" label. An urban fantasy is a story set in our time and world where creatures of fantasy inhabit the fringes of our culture. The problem that I had with this book is that there were so many spanners that I had to wonder how they could possibly remain on the fringe. Also, there were so many classes with such a wide divergence of powers that this element seemed ad hoc.

In addition, the story moved from urban fantasy into epic fantasy when the characters entered the "badlands," a place where disturbing and dangerous spanners go. But where was this land? Not on this world certainly. It is here that the story turns something like a battle from Lord of the Rings.

The writing was journeyman. The plot was basically a quest story. I think my biggest problem was that there was so much backstory imagined by the author. So, many classes, so many characters, so many elements ranging from immortal Arawaks to immortal Vikings to eternally-sick immortals and a Fountain of Youth that had to be divided into two people. The story needed to be pruned in order to make it more intelligible and smooth the flow of the story.
Profile Image for Lauren Wallace.
495 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2018
"we are close to unleashing the Fountains' full power. the life aspect of her being will magnify our abilities by a thousand until we're like the gods of yesteryear" (p. 133)

Spanners are mysterious beings with different lifespans than normal humans, some of them are immortal, some live only six months, some age backwards. This book tells the story of an immortal spanner named Adam Parr as he tries to stop his adversary from unleashing the power of a spanner capable of controlling life and death.

This book grips you in from the very beginning, and I was able to finish it in just a few days. It features a wide assortment of captivating and well-developed characters none of which feel boring or unnecessary.

I'd highly recommend this book to any fans of science fiction.
Profile Image for Ian.
104 reviews4 followers
August 24, 2017
For most of the book I quite liked it. I feel, however, that it didn't really end. It was suddenly/unexpectedly over but did not feel fully wrapped up. It was like there should be another book - but there's not. This took away a few stars from what would have been a better rating and a better book!
Profile Image for dawn rahe.
79 reviews
January 14, 2018
Spanners: The Fountain of Youth (Paperback)
by Jonathan Maas I love this book!!! It has EVERYTHING! Strong characters. A super plot- who would not love to find the Fountain of Youth? I fell in love with Mayfly. I am sure all the girls do... I love Adam because he IS history and an Empath as am I. Dark antagonist with one who I had to toss a coin - Balthasar- he is so full of surprises.tyj
112 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2021
It is an intriguing story about the concept of immortality missed with the history of colonization. What can happen when the strongest want to.rule the world. Historical figures in a complete unrealistic story, and a fierce battle for survival of human kind.
311 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2021

This was awful. The premise was odd to begin with and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then it further degrades to horrible and completely impractical torture. I’m done and will avoid this author at all costs.
Profile Image for Penny Bowden.
122 reviews
October 3, 2019

Didn’t know what to expect from this book but really enjoyed it and hope there are more! Definitely worth reading.....
Profile Image for Julie Dawson.
Author 147 books50 followers
February 22, 2015
Spanners: The Fountain of Youth by Jonathan Maas dabbles in theories regarding the nature of time and how humans perceive it. Humans experience time linearly, living our lives from age one through whenever we die and aging as we go. Spanners, however, experience time differently. Some age backwards. Others do not age at all. Some age back and forth. And this non-linear experience with time and age gives Spanners a host of unique abilities.

Adam Parr is an 8,000 year old Spanner and detective who specializes in dealing with his own kind. When an old adversary uncovers the most powerful Spanner that ever existed, Adam must stop her from destroying the world. Now if this sounds like a cliché plot, it may help to know that the adversary in question is explorer Ponce de Leon. And the Spanner he discovers? It is the Fountain of Youth, which turns out to be a person and not a place. This intriguing little twist makes for a much more interesting plot than your typical end-of-the-world scenario.

There are two things that detract from the narrative. First, as Spanners is classified as a Science Fiction novel, science fiction fans expect the science to be buttoned up. If you want the reader to accept a world where people age in non-linear ways, you need to make sure that the “real” science is accurate so as to not throw people out of the story. And in this regard, much of the problem appears to be the result sloppy fact-checking than anything else.

For example, clone spanners are explained as being identical twins of opposite genders. But twins of opposite genders are fraternal twins, not identical. The only way identical twins can be opposite genders are through some mutation, but clone spanners are described as being free of mutation in every way. This is one of those factual mistakes that shouldn’t happen in a science fiction novel, particularly because there is no plot-based reason for it. Clone spanners could have just been described as fraternal twins and avoided the error. There are a lot of minor points like this throughout the book that, individually, you would gloss over. But collectively, some science fiction readers may become annoyed.

The second issue is that the author tends to over-explain things, often in a way that either conflicts with what we have been led to believe previously or simply “talks down” to the reader. This over-explanation often comes across as dry data dumping of information that we have already inferred from the plot itself. And in some cases, such as the clone spanner example above, the over-explanation makes things worse by illustrating the lack of fact-checking of the most mundane information.

The world-building aspect, however, is well done. Maas does a fine job of integrating Spanners into his setting in a way that makes logical sense. They feel like an organic part of the setting; not just a cosmetic trick. The different types of Spanners tie neatly into the greater story in a way that hints at an even larger society and perhaps a series of books in the future.

Fans of hard science fiction will be annoyed at the science lapses and over-explanation. But if you like your sci-fi on the light side with a greater focus on plot and character development, Spanners is an entertaining read. Just go into it knowing what you are getting, and you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewer note: I was given a comp copy of this book for review.
Profile Image for Whitney.
324 reviews35 followers
January 4, 2015
2.5 Personal Rating

Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 29th:

Spanners: The Fountain of Youth introduces a world similar to our own, with the addition of a race of beings called Spanners that live their lives with very different rules from our own. Some spanners die after falling in love only to be born again, some live their lives backwards, and others are immortal. One such immortal, Adam Parr, has caught wind that a dangerous and very old foe is back in the game. Captain Juan Ponce de Leon is gathering a crew to go after the prize that slipped through his fingers 500 years ago: the Fountain of Youth. The Fountain is a powerful and innocent immortal with the ability to grant eternal life, and a final death. With 6 billion lives in the balance, Adam gathers his own team together in a desperate bid to stop Juan from extracting the powers of the Fountain for his own use.

Jon Maas created a complicated world in this book, introducing readers to a seemingly unending number of spanner classes right from the start. The book almost reads like a superhero novel, as so many of the classes have abilities along those lines (immortality, hyper intelligence, fire manipulation, and the ability to change their own biological structures to name a few). There didn’t seem to be any particular rules governing the abilities, and it wasn’t ever made clear if Spanners were a separate species altogether, or if they sprouted randomly here and there from within humanity.

The story is a long and somewhat rambling one, dealing with events in the presumed current day, as well as 500 years ago. The past segments are told in large, extended flashback sequences, which can be a bit jarring to the overall flow of the current narrative. The narrative might have been stronger if the book had been clearly broken into two parts: 500 years ago, and the current narrative.

Spanners has a fairly large cast of characters, with readers spending the most time getting to know Adam Parr and Mayfly. Despite the large amount of time readers get to reside within the characters’ heads, it is difficult to empathize with them. All of the characters come across as very flat, with little to no individual personality. We are told what they like, fear, love to do, and yet there remains some strange emotional disconnect, almost like reading the lines of a script. This is interesting as Jon Maas has actually written the script for a movie in the Spanners universe, which may have had a large impact on his style of writing in this novel.

Despite the lack of character depth, and somewhat choppy story, the book moves quickly and does keep the reader wondering how things will work out throughout the book. Spanners, people that live lives backwards and different to our own is an interesting concept, and worth a look for readers enjoy plot driven narratives.
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