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Spare and Found Parts

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Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 4, 2016

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About the author

Sarah Maria Griffin

7 books260 followers
Sarah Maria Griffin lives in Dublin, Ireland, in a small red brick house by the sea, with her husband and cat. She writes about monsters, growing up, and everything those two things have in common. Her first book, SPARE AND FOUND PARTS, is out now.

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5 stars
392 (19%)
4 stars
665 (32%)
3 stars
669 (32%)
2 stars
263 (12%)
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58 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 397 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,688 reviews1,266 followers
June 18, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“This was why she had to build a companion, build a boy with an electric voice, so she’d have someone to confide in when the people around her were too much for her to handle. Too flawed. Too human.”

This was a YA dystopian story, about a girl who built a robotic man.

Nell was an okay character, but she did come across as a little crazy at times; not least of all when she was trying to build this robotic man with artificial intelligence.

The storyline in this was about Nell building the robotic man, but the pace was way too slow for me. It took ages for Nell to even have the idea, never mind put it into action, and it felt like most of the story was wasted just waiting for her to do something.

The ending to this was also a bit of a disappointment, but I had really lost interest in the story by that point.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for jessica.
2,508 reviews30.9k followers
March 10, 2018
i thought this sounded really interesting - i mean, who wouldnt want to build themselves the perfect boyfriend!? but i found the story struggled to keep my attention in some parts and the plot didnt really strike me as memorable. also, the random switching of tenses throughout the book didnt really help. pretty average book, overall.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Karina.
164 reviews165 followers
April 25, 2020
“Secrets, Nell, are the most important thing when it comes to changing the world. Not always the keeping of them but the timing of their release.”


Nell always thinks that she’s like a clock – or perhaps a time bomb. She’s ticking from the inside because of her mechanical heart. Every second of the day, she ticks. She feels like she’s a time bomb ticking, waiting for the right time to explode. She likes learning, likes building yet she is struggling to figure out what contribution to her healing and broken-down city will she make.

Reading the blurb, I immediately thought of Pinocchio, a boy made from wood that suddenly came to life. And Spare and Found Parts gave me its own unique version of Pinocchio I was expecting.

If you guys don’t know me yet, I love books where revolutions occur, where people can stand up for what they think is right, a book full of strong characters. I never expected it, but Spare and Found Parts fulfilled my need for those too.

She would be a new woman, unveiling a new man. A new man, a door, a key.

Penelope “Nell” Crane, this female main character is like no other. First thing I love about Nell is her desire, her desire to thrive, achieve her dreams and make something greater than what her father and mother achieved and contributed to their city. Her desire to build and create things is alive. There’s passion and will burning inside Nell.

Nell’s character development was on point. I’ve gone from pitying her to admiring her to hating her and loving her. From “God, she deserves to be happy” to “God, she’s sick.” real quick. She’s incredible and unbelievable. You know what she is thinking, but you’ll never guess what she’ll do next.

“I am your maker,” you say. I open my eyes again and . . . love. Yes, this is love. Your hand is wrapped around mine. This is what it is to be alive.

Io, the machine Nell Crane made, it’s making me lost for words.

I’d know your heartbeat anywhere. Ten thousand songs, and it is still the most marvelous thing I have heard.

How can a machine make me feel pain? How can a machine make me laugh? How can a machine bring me to tears?

I am the product of the greatest minds that ever walked this planet. I am the last of my kind. Because of creations like me, your people poisoned one another to death. Might like mine draws wonder and terror, and in the year I was programmed I was as powerful as any god your people ever had. I will not let you make the same mistakes again.

Io, its point of view will never make you confused. It’s a machine. It’s working because of a computer. A point of view not of a human but of a machine is definitely new for me. I thought it would be confusing, but it did not. Reading how a computer works or perhaps how a computer thinks (I really don’t know how to address it) is astounding. It knows almost everything. How complex it was made is nothing compared to what complex things it can grasp. It was made excellently.

“I always thought that someday something would happen that would shake up your perspective and that finally”—he exhaled deeply, these awful words—“you might see me how I see you.”

Oliver Kelly. “Why and how, Oliver?” That’s the question I want to ask him. Like Nell, I don’t like him at all but his perseverance made me changed my mind. He’s not a swoon-worthy type of guy. He’s just a smart and ambitious teenager who’s foolishly in love with Nell Crane since they were a child. There are actually nothing special about Oliver. He can even actually be annoying and irritating at times, but Oliver’s perseverance and ambitiousness made me like him at some point especially that despite of being ambitious just like Nell’s father, he is still always on Nell’s, their city’s, and on the good side. I don’t know why, but I honestly love and I’m thankful that Oliver Kelly exists.

Jullian and Cora Crane reminds me of Carry On’s Simon Snow’s parents. Nell’s parents are far too ambitious and greedy - greedy both for knowledge and glory regardless of the price.

The characters have different purposes for their city and the story. I love how well they all developed especially Nell and Oliver. That was on point and something to look up to.

Sarah Maria Griffin’s writing was also excellent and fresh, just another author to watch for.

There’s always something new, something different and something to always look forward for in this book. Spare and Found Parts is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. It’ll never disappoint you. You’ll feel alive from the start to the end. You’re mind will keep working, as alive as Nell’s.

Spare and Found Parts also kinda reminds me of Melophobia. If people on Melophobia were afraid of music and they see music as bad influence that causes people to commit crimes, people on Spare and Found Parts are afraid of machines, technology and information. They believe that machines or computers are the main reason for the epidemic which caused their city’s devastation. They see the machines and computers as evil and information or knowledge as a threat and enemy.

The book was filled with too many scientific terms, mostly about technology, electricity, and mechanical stuffs. The journey of Nell assembling a machine is too complex, but that’s what I love the most. The assembly part was too precise and complicated. I cannot quite understand easily all the terms and equations but that’s what made this book more exciting and challenging. This is really my kind of book.

There are also chapters of flashbacks which confused me a little at first especially the change of perspectives. That seemed a puzzle to me at the very start but I eventually loved it as I already understood what were those chapters really are for. Those chapters give some little hints, some little clues on what really happened and what will happen next. And I really love those because those chapters definitely made me feel excited.

The end wasn’t a cliff-hanger, it is in fact beautiful. It was a lovely end. It was such an end full of hope but not that satisfying. There are open ends and I’ll say that I am definitely not contended. As a huge fan of those characters, I definitely think that there should be more on that end. There should be more of Nell, Io, and their city’s story.

The story is intriguing, enchanting, electrifying and exciting all through the end. Secrets after secrets, revelations after revelations. You’ll thought that you already guessed where things will lead but you’re uncertain so you’ll keep reading as fast as you could just to know if your suspicions were right. You thought you will finish it fast but you will not. The emotions you’ll feel will make you slow down. The emotions were there and it will be hard to shake those things off. The roller coaster ride of emotions plus the journey of putting things together was insane and unforgettable. What an achingly beautiful experience Spare and Found Parts gave me.

Excellently written, Spare and Found Parts is a powerful novel of hopes, dreams, family and friendship you shouldn’t miss!

“You’re a nightmare, Nell.”
“I’m a monster, Oliver.”
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,037 followers
May 7, 2016
The blurb made me so sad.

You go, girl! Build yourself a companion!

In the aftermath of playing God by giving machines conciseness, humanity destroyed much of their technology and returned to nature for comfort. Nell is a talented mechanic who's suppose to find a partner, settle down and produce little, screaming, red faced creatures. Only she's not down with that so she decides to build a Windows powered companion.

It was a sweet story. Predictable but still sweet. I really felt bad for Nell.

This book gives me hope. Hope even though the machine supremacy is coming, we will defeat them and rebuilt along with John Connor a much simpler, wi-fi free(nope,nope,nope) future.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Chiara.
869 reviews220 followers
February 23, 2017
A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

There were four pleasantly surprising things about Spare and Found Parts:

1) The main character, Nell, is bi.

The word isn’t used on the page, but Nell talks about guys and girls in terms of romance (and her best friend does, too, when asking Nell about it), and she also has a super crush on a girl that runs a bar. It was SUCH AN AWESOME SURPRISE to find this out because lo and behold, the blurb and the book community in general has failed – yet again – to mention queer content. Guys. When a girl says, and I am quoting here: “any time Nell thought about boys, or girls for that matter, she immediately sabotaged her fantasy self out of any romance” that girl is not straight. That girl is hella bi, hella queer.

2) The prose is freaking gorgeous.

There’s second person, and third person, and first person, and all of it is beautiful. It was incredibly lyrical, and it just gave me a really beautiful feeling when I was reading it. There were so many gorgeously written lines, and the whole book was so packed full of words that were beautifully strung together. I definitely want to re-read this book, just so I can bask in the glory again one day.

3) I really liked it.

Now, I guess that is somewhat weird to say, because we all want to like the books we decide to read, but I don’t actually have a lot of luck when it comes to books. Which is really quite shitty. For all the books I read I should love a lot of them, but I don’t. But I suppose it makes the ones that I do really like (and love) more special, so there’s that.

Anyway. I really liked Spare and Found Parts. There were so many things I liked about it. I liked Nell, I liked the prose, I liked the storyline, I liked the flow. I pretty much liked everything. And it was just so lovely to realise that I was going to like this book from the first chapter, because it’s such a wonderful feeling to just know that a book is going to click with you.

4) Nell.

Nell, a queer girl of colour, who wants to be as amazing as her mum and dad, who has no interest in the boy chasing after her, who doesn’t fit in, who wants someone to just get her. Oh, Nell. I loved her quite infinitely. She was in no way perfect, but imperfections can sometimes make a character all the more real and all the more loveable for it, and Nell is definitely one of those characters. Her sheer determination in the face of ridicule and betrayal and impossibility is just gorgeous, and I adored her for this. I think Nell is one of the best characters I have met recently.


Overall, Spare and Found Parts is an utterly beautiful novel, on so many levels. With an engaging storyline, beautiful prose, and a gorgeous and diverse main character … what are you waiting for? Go, now. Go, now, and read Spare and Found Parts.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.

trigger warning: death of a parent, forced marriage (not fulfilled), and heart complications/surgery in this novel
Profile Image for Karen.
497 reviews94 followers
March 31, 2021

This story was about a girl who wants to build herself a robot companion. In the far off future computers and technology are all gone. After some sort of virus/sickness, all of the computers were destroyed or disconnected. Nell is being raised by her crazy father, the inventor of so many artificial parts for humans. In this place almost everyone has a replacement part, even Nell who has a ticking heart. People either love or hate her father and she barely even knows him. Nell is awkward and a bit ostracized, so she decides to make herself a companion.

First, the prose of this story:

“She held on to the glow of the thought. A Machine that is also a person. A whole person. Arms and legs and hands and a smile.”

I found the writing a bit whimsical and refreshing, but I also found myself having a tough time following the story at first. I grew to enjoy the writing style. The whole story is told in 3rd person, except for some bits towards the ending. Everything is described with comparisons and very detailed.

Then the dystopian world:

“There are three rules:
1. The sick in the Pale, the healed in the Pasture.
2. Contribute, at all cost.
3. All code is blasphemy.”

The world has tons of potential, but Nell doesn’t really stray far from home. We didn’t get to see as much as I had hope of this world. The society is not easily understood either. All of the children must make a contribution, but none of the essentials are covered. I just kept thinking, where are the farmers or builders in this society. The story focuses on technology long past and the hope for the future.

There wasn’t any “sick” described. What caused the sickness? What were the symptoms? No idea.

The supporting characters:

First there is Nell’s father, who is a bit crazy and very distant from Nell. Her mother is dead and she things about her often. Nell’s best friend is a girl named Ruby, but Nell doesn’t really feel she can confide in Ruby. Another one to watch in this story is Oliver, who has loved her since they were little kids. It is unrequited love and Nell really dislikes Oliver despite his sweet attempts to win her over.

In Conclusion:

I really enjoyed reading this story, for the most part. Nell is a bit of a mystery, even to herself, and so she is unpredictable. Her world is terribly flawed, but through Nell I saw there is so much possibility in this place. I love that Nell is so determined no matter what people think of her. Nell goes through major character growth in this story and that was a joy to see.

The problems with this story almost outweigh the positives though. The plot has big gaping holes that even I could not ignore. There was so much not explained in this story. School? Where does food come from? Currency is never explained? World building was sporadic and not well developed. The story is devoid of a romantic interest and we never really find out what happens after the big reveal. I was entertained and invested in the story though. This was hard to review. I think this was young YA. Taking all that into account, I give this 3/5 stars. I think this will appeal to people who don’t wonder about other aspects of world building when they read.
Profile Image for Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight).
875 reviews120 followers
April 29, 2020
3 Stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book. It's something I might recommend to others if they were interested, but, at the same time, I couldn't really get into it.

Plot: The plot was kind of unpredictable, which I like. I didn't know what was going to happen, and I didn't know what I wanted to happen. That was cool. But in the end, it kind of disappointed me. There was some growth, it seemed like things were teased at, then it seemed like there was kind of backwards growth, then I'm not really sure. It was also a slow story, and I found myself losing interest. But it was slow in a way that gave it an almost unsettling, otherworldly feel, so props to the author for evoking that feeling.

Romance: Maybe it's just me, but the description made me think this would be more of a romance. It's really not, which was fine for me, but might disappoint some people.

Believability: I had some believability issues with the android stuff. *SPOILER* *END SPOILER*

Retelling: What I did like about the story was that it seemed to be a Frankenstein retelling, with the way the MC wanted to create life (in this case, an android), the way she became kind of obsessed with it, even the incorporation of lightning.

Characters: I never really understood Nell, or her obsession with creating artificial life, or why she pushed everyone away the way she did. I didn't find her very likeable or interesting, and characters generally need to be at least one of those two things for my enjoyment. I found myself far more interested in side characters. I wanted to know more about Julian with his secrets, and his mysteries, and his brilliance, and his grief. *SPOILER* *END SPOILER* I also wanted to know more about Oliver with his connections, and his ambitions, and his unrequited love.

World: I never fully understood the world. I didn't understand the epidemic (or whatever it was), what it had to do with computers, and why it caused people to be missing pieces of their bodies. I didn't understand this new post-apoc/dystopian place these people had set up and why some lived in the Pasture and some lived in the Pale.

Inclusivity: It was nice to find that the world this book was set in was LGBT+ inclusive. I think the MC might have been bi/pan (it was never directly stated, but there were times when she would think things like, "I've never courted a boy, or a girl for that matter," or wonder if she was flirting or fighting with the pretty barmaid). There was also casual mention of LGBT+ background characters.

Writing: I didn't have anything against the writing itself, it might've been pretty at times (it's hard to me to tell when listening to audio), but I didn't love all the POV choices. The book was mostly in 3rd person limited from Nell's POV, but there were a few short chapters in 2nd person from Nell's POV, and a few in 1st person from Io's POV talking to "you" (Nell).

Audiobook Narration: I enjoyed listening to Alana Kerr Collins and her Irish accent, but all the voices sounded the same, which could be a little confusing. I also didn't see the point in having dual narration, considering the second narrator (Alan Smyth) didn't come in until 6 hours into the 9-hour book and hardly had any chapters.

I feel like there's a lot of negativity in this review, but I didn't hate the book. I liked some things, disliked others, but overall just wasn't that invested or into it. It wasn't quite for me, but I think some people will love it. It does have an unpredictable and surprising, maybe even thought-provoking, story.

Recommended For:
Anyone who likes Frankenstein retellings and slow-paced stories that don't necessarily go in the direction you're expecting.

Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
Profile Image for Liz.
565 reviews105 followers
February 1, 2018
Spare and Found Parts is about a girl with a clockwork heart in a post-technological Ireland feeling lonely and building herself a boy with, well, spare and found parts. Imaginative, intelligent and utterly captivating, this book swept me away and I was in love!

But not at first sight. Because love takes time and effort… You see, starting this book, I admit, it was a bit hard for me to get on board with the style of prose. There was one sentence in particular that I read about 5 times before I wrapped my head around it. BUT!! This is not the book’s fault or the writer’s fault. The fault was mine. Why? Because I have become so accustomed to reading books that hand me simple, easy sentences, nothing too complex, nothing too quirky. Thus, I became determined to understand, to visualise and to embrace the prose. I wanted to be immersed in all that this book was going to give me. I found my stride and I am so glad I did… and you know what? I am going to be bold and say, Sarah Maria Griffin is a true Irish writer! True to the nation’s wonderful characteristic artistry with words, music, attitudes. Spare and Found Parts is ‘poetry in motion’.

As the story unfolded bit by bit, I was sucked into this ‘different’ Dublin- The Pale (I found this particular distribution of the country into The Pale and The Pasture especially clever! Google it and find out for yourself…) – a multi-layered environment. In parts a well-oiled machine with a system in place following the ‘collapse’, in parts closed doors and undergrounds where something against the grain is ‘cooking away. The atmosphere of the place was equal parts mechanical, modern yet historical, wondrous and even magical.

I really enjoyed how elements of the story presented the opposite ends of themselves. For example- The Pale is recovering from an epidemic, and yet, there are still those futuristic aspects of wonder. The wonder of artificial limbs so good they move in sync with human bodies as if metal and wire was flesh and blood.

The great little fresh oases of nature peppered amongst the turmoil of human emotions- frogs who use the opportunity of a kitchen door left open to cover the floor, the elephant roaming in what once was a well-tended park. These small elements of life amongst the bleakness and ash covered not-life. Wondrous, indeed!

And the characters (of whom I will only mention a few)…

Nell, our main character, is complex indeed. I started the book by understanding her loneliness. The understanding slowly developed into dislike as her stubborn drive and obsession with creating herself a companion from inhuman parts made her drive away her real friends. The dislike turned into admiration as more about Nell’s life was revealed and how she dealt with cold, hard truths simply made me see her as a character of strength and fairness. A perfect imperfection.

Oliver, a young man persistent in trying to win Nell’s favour, didn’t strike me as the bad boy Nell wanted me to see him as. There was no need for her to treat Oliver so badly at all times and yet all it made me think of what I was once told- we tend to dislike the people who mirror our own shortcomings. Yet, Oliver tries, man, does he try to win Nell’s heart.

But Nell has a clockwork heart… and it’s ticking and making noise, and she doesn’t feel like she could ever be truly accepted or understood the way she is by another human. With the obligation to contribute to society, with high expectations looming over her as the daughter of one of the most important contributing men and wanting to hold a boy’s hand who can really understand what it means to be different, to be not all made of blood and flesh and cartilage, Nell will draw and gather the parts and build a boy! A thinking, talking, moving boy who is not a boy.

Io- Nell’s hard work, Nell’s companion and contribution to society. You can read this book and take Io at face value. He doesn’t exist until he does and when he does he has all this knowledge from the past, and music! And answers to everything. He dances and prepares meals and tend to illnesses.

Or, you can take and see Io as the boy who means more than just his kettle head and mannequin hand and wires and a computer for a core. Io, the walking and talking impossible. Io, the should not be! Io, the very embodiment of humanity’s collective innovation, bad decisions, failure and fear. A chance to face the mistakes made and a chance to do better. Io to me, delivered a very simple message- it is only humans who can create the things we can create; it is only humans who can make the choice whether to use a creation for good or bad; it is only humans who blame their creation for the bad human errors.

True, Io was only ready to appear in the story a bit later than some readers would perhaps like. But this is not meant to be a love story in between a girl and a weird looking robot. Who has time for puppy love and hormonal teenagers when there is a paradigm shift ready to tear a crack in society’s norms? Beautiful stuff! I believe Io made an appearance at the right moment, giving me time to understand this world I was now experiencing and the rules within it, giving me time to get to know Nell and her friends and family, giving me an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy Io’s ‘birth’ even more.

All of the character interactions, their still waters running deeper than appears at first glance, build up to a roaring crescendo as the book draws to a close. Through an explosion of emotions both good and bad, the revelations both wonderful and horrific, the story itself is like witnessing a major turning point in history. That first step towards a new dawn. A computer, considered blasphemy and evil, is powered up by the hands of a teenage girl, out of loneliness no less, and it sets in motion a whole row of dominoes falling.

I love this book… from cover to cover, everything in between and for everything that it made me stop and think about. It is more than the beauty outside, it has a lot to offer once you dig deeper.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,326 reviews1,016 followers
April 18, 2018
Spare and Found Parts is a futuristic story set in a world that was nearly destroyed by some kind of epidemic that left the majority of the population with missing body parts. Nell's father is a respected scientist who created the biomechanics that are used by those who can afford to have their missing limbs, be they arms, legs, hands or even eyes, replaced. Nell is a bit of an outsider, she struggles to connect with people and she's different because her machinery is on the inside and her mechanical heart that is the only thing that has kept her alive since she was a small child.

This is a society that is very suspicious of computers because it is believed they caused the epidemic but it was never fully explained what actually happened to the world or why, if technology was to blame, that everyone is so happy to walk around with biomechanical limb replacements. I wish the world had been explained better because I was left with so many questions and it really stopped me from fully getting sucked into the story.

Nell was an interesting character but she was quite hard to connect with because she's quite selfish, she has a goal to build herself a robotic companion and she doesn't care what she has to do to achieve that goal. She walks all over people who are just trying to be her friend and that doesn't endear her to me as a reader but at the same time she could also be quite vulnerable and it was easy to see she was just trying to find her place in a world that has always treated her as different.

This story is partly based on the story of Frankenstein and it has some really interesting concepts but unfortunately I found it quite a heavy going read, particularly in the first half, so it took me a long time to read. The story picks up pace later on and becomes much more interesting but I still have so many unanswered questions and feel like I wanted more world building.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,393 reviews822 followers
October 6, 2021
This was a very interesting take on a post digital world. I enjoyed it nearly all the way through but the resolution of the story was a bit odd! Nell, Ruby and Oliver were unique characters and the ‘new’ society they live in was viable and believable. I’m glad I read it.
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
December 16, 2017
'Her blade was in his body, but he wouldn't fall; he wanted so desperately for this to live. She'd never stopped to think maybe he was hurting. But Nell wasn't anyone's happy ending. She was always a more likely executioner.'

Spare and Found Parts is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi with a touch of mystery and steampunk set on an unknown island starring a bi main character who hates being touched and loves tinkering with salvaged materials. Sounds a bit of a mouthful but it takes the concept of AI taking over and flips it and I have to say, I think it's done quite well. More than a 100 years in the future, there are still mad scientists and people who believe in the power of prayers ha.

The Starling-Cranes are one fucked up family, though and it was so interesting to discover just how much. This quote cracked me up: '...the misanthropic apple didn’t really fall far from the antisocial tree.' Nell is a great main character with spunk and a bit of a mean streak which means I liked her almost immediately. She blowtorched a boy's arm and gave him a second-degree burn when he touched her without her consent; impossible not to like her.

I found Spare and Found Parts to be a well-written and thoroughly engaging read with great world-building that keeps up a steady pace of mystery. However, it may require more than the usual amount of suspension of disbelief for some. There are some chapters written in second-person narration which I think just added an extra something to the story.

Favorite quote: 'Just because I can't do things your way doesn't mean they're not getting done.'
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,691 reviews856 followers
October 30, 2016
This is the type of book that I had to sit back and think about for awhile after reading it. It was peculiar and different but it was also a little… too different? I think the premise was there - and it was a strong, unique storyline - but somewhere in the writing style and disjointed plot it got lost.

The writing style was little hard for me to swallow. It changed between first, second and third POV randomly and it got awfully confusing trying to figure out what was happening. I thought the second POV were meant to be flashbacks/dreams at first but even that wasn’t consistent. I wasted way too much time trying to realise if the events in those passages actually happened or not. It actually kind of distracted me from the general storyline and characters. I also felt that the writing style as a whole tried to be flowery and poignant but it just didn’t suit the story, especially in the beginning when the author was trying to build up this derelict dystopian world. The prose just felt completely out of place! It was almost like the author was trying too hard. I know that this is a debut story so maybe Griffin is still trying to find her voice...? Either way, I personally found it was distracting from the overall plotline.

I didn’t mind the characters all that much. Nell is a feminist, bisexual woman of colour so I was obviously in love with that aspect of the story. The fact that she was also independent, headstrong and happily introverted just made my day. Yes, she was a little abrupt at times but I felt that she as a whole she was a realistic and well-rounded character. I just wish I had connected to her on a more personal level! No matter how much I tried - and as much as I admired her from afar - there was something that just made it really hard for me to care for her. I never felt that we got to know her well enough as I was constantly surprised by the things she said and did.

The secondary characters were much better. I thought Ruby and Io were great characters! Io’s humour was so sweet and I loved Ruby’s loyalty - no matter what Nell threw her way, she stuck by her. Julian could have done with some more fleshing out in my opinion and so could have Nan. I just wish familial relationships had played a larger role in the story as a whole? Unfortunately, I could not stand Oliver’s character. Everyone may have thought it was cute that he kept “going after” Nell after she had turned him - down no fewer than eighteen freaking times - but that’s just harassment and not okay. Did he not get the message that Nell was interested? Well, obviously not… but her should have. I could not stand him.

The plot was what let this story down. It was far too slow-paced and oddly vague. I never really felt like I understood exactly what was happening at a given moments so I was constantly confused having to reread entire pages to try and figure out what was happening. The world and general idea of the post-apocalyptic society was clever but I really didn’t enjoy the Nell’s journey within it. I definitely think focusing on a specific element would have helped. I found it hard to believe that her love for engineering was all that sincere. We barely ever her see her tinkering/building things? She justs draws a lot so the idea of her being a mechanical prodigy felt out of place. It probably didn’t help that the ending completely threw me out of whack. I don’t think I quite understand its significance? It was over before I knew it and I’m still wondering what I missed… I don’t understand her mother’s sub-storyline at all.


I think this was a decent debut but just not my cup of tea. The plotline was too vague for me to 100% grasp what was happening at all times and I was almost constantly confused. It was also a little more slow-paced than I usually like. I did like Nell as a protagonist but I struggled to connect to her character and story. The secondary cast was much better, and I really wish we could have spent more time with them. This was not a bad novel but definitely not the best dystopian or sci-fi novel I’ve ever read.

Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Profile Image for imyril.
436 reviews60 followers
June 23, 2018
A warm, hard, sharp, cold, beautifully written account of life after the digital apocalypse. When information became too hard to control, people too free to access it, the government unleashed hell. The Turn delivered death to the island, millions dying horribly of a disease that couldn't be contained.

100 years later, the healthy live in the Pastures and the healing live in the Pale. Everyone has lost something: a limb, a family member. But they refuse to lose hope. Those who live on the outskirts of Black Water City must make a contribution to the community to earn an independent place in it, or go to work on the monumental statue that towers over the city.

Nell Crane is the daughter of two revolutionary thinkers who choose to live in the Pale. Great things are expected of her, but she's running out of time to make her contribution. And when inspiration strikes, her idea - if she can even achieve it - is so bold that it may destroy her ties to everyone she knows...

I really enjoyed this - spikes and all (because Nell isn't the easiest of protagonists to like sometimes) - although I have a few qualms about the ending, which I need to process a little longer before I can write about it.

Full review

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Devyn.
614 reviews
July 26, 2021

Stopped at 75% completed.

Nell Crane likes to think she's an outsider.

She spends most of her time literally running away from people wanting to be her friend, going home alone in a self-induced misery, and sitting up on the roof at night like a gloomy 2004 suburban emo kid.

The obvious next step for Nell after stewing in all those edgy rooftop thoughts is to build a robot boyfriend made entirely out of Spare and Found Parts so at least someone in a city where everybody is missing a body part or two can understand poor Nell and her clockwork heart.

No, thanks.
Profile Image for Jo.
3,251 reviews117 followers
February 25, 2019
In a post-apocalyptic world, many people live with artificial body parts. Nell has a mechanical heart thanks to her dad's inventions. When Nell is asked to contribute something to society, she decides to make a sentient being using banned IT. This was a little bit Frankenstein-like with the whole looking at who is the real monster. I found this charming in some parts and wholly absorbing. A surprisingly great read.
Profile Image for Kelly.
314 reviews31 followers
February 9, 2018
I didn’t really know what to expect when I first picked up this book to start reading. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and those red sprayed edges were already winning me over. I had read the blurb and was initially quite intrigued but it didn’t take long before Spare and Found Parts had my full attention!

Spare and Found Parts is set in a post-technology world and this concept really interested me from the get go. As we live in a world so embedded with and around technology, it seems impossible to think of a world without it. But the idea of a world without technology because it had gotten to a point where it was taking over and caused significant damage to the world? Talk about an idea that could potentially be written in our future!! I loved how this theme was carried throughout the book with the majority of characters truly fearing computers and internet – not even being about to talk about it. Nell, on the other hand, is fascinated by it and can’t help but wonder why others don’t want technology back to improve their lives so she embarks on a mission to make her contribution to society one that nobody will forget.

The beginning of the book was pretty slow in comparison to the last 50 or so pages where everything seemed to be revealed and all the twists and turns seemed to happen. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the world is really nicely set up and I definitely found it interesting. Nell doesn’t actually start to build her new companion until almost halfway into the book so be prepared for that. The book does move along really quickly towards the end and a lot happens that will have your attention completely absorbed in the story and a few twists and turns I wasn’t anticipating managed to sneak their way in too! Overall I really liked the story and concept a lot.

Nell is such a brilliant main character. She is driven, ambitious and passionate as well as trying to be a good daughter and friend, she is forced to be independent and I admired how strong-willed she was, even when people thought she was a bit bonkers! Io seemed pretty adorable and I have to admit that I wouldn’t mind having my own Io around. I didn’t really connect with Oliver Kelly’s character at all but I was actually really glad that this book didn’t have much of a romantic arc at all and that the focus was purely on Nell. Ruby felt like such a real and vibrant character and I really liked her and Nell’s friendship – they both make mistakes but manage to forgive each other, just as true friends do.

“We are all more than the sum of our parts”

Spare and Found Parts is a dark glimpse at a could-be future which is laced with themes of deceit, family, friendship and finding yourself. The girl with the bionic heart definitely captured my own heart.

Thanks to Lydia at Titan Books for my copy in exchange of a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Brenda.
1,516 reviews65 followers
December 1, 2016
This was just painfully slow. It was almost two-thirds of the way in when we finally get to meet our Frankenstein's monster, and maybe halfway through the book before Nell even has the idea of creating him. I think the emphasis is supposed to be on Nell and her father, especially with what's revealed in the end. But by that point I was so beyond caring--I just wanted anything to happen.
Profile Image for Kim B..
300 reviews8 followers
Want to read
May 1, 2016
This is so much my kind of book, you have no idea.
Profile Image for Ellen.
445 reviews33 followers
March 28, 2018
A modern day Frankenstein - perfection! Set in a post apocalyptic Dublin after an event caused by mankind's greed for technology. All computers are forbidden in this world and thirst for this knowledge frowned upon.The survivors all have missing body parts. The main character is Nell, a girl with a clockwork heart who feels alone and apart from her family and friends. She must make a Contribution to prove her worth and after finding a mannequin's hand on the beach she decides to make a friend, a boy. The first half of the book is world-building and the second deals with the creation of Io and the fallout from her invention. Oh and there's a cute stoat called Kodak :) Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Kristen.
967 reviews16 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
March 8, 2022
DNF at 50%
A whole person. Hang limbs on a spine and find a way to give him a brain, a heart - a soul. Could you make a soul out of spare and found parts? Why not?

Nell Crane has a lot to live up to: her father is the creator of the biochemical appendages that make the physically-disabled whole again, and her late mother left a reminder of what humanity is. Then there is Nell, who needs to contribute something to society, only she's completely out of ideas. That's when she's struck with a taboo idea: build a boy from scratch, a companion who understands who she is.

I thought long and hard about DNFing this book. It took me a long time to get as far as I did, and all I did in that time was struggle to comprehend this fictional world and the MC who lives in it. After days of not reading, I realized that it was because I had no want to read this book. So it is going to my DNF shelf. I just felt like I needed to give a run down on why:

The world is unique. It has a weird sort of feel - post-apocalyptic, but somehow steampunk-ish. Like, once upon a time there were computers and incredibly advanced technology. Then sickness struck, killing and physically scarring many people, and suddenly they are back in some Victorian era, only with a twist. Girls wear dresses and boys wear suits. Marriage is a perfectly acceptable thing at a young age and common for girls to avoid having to contribute something on their own. But the prosthetic limbs Nell's dad makes are highly mechanical and more like true limbs than today's prosthetic limbs.

That being said, I was really confused about what was going on, and how this world got to be this way. We're told time and time again that there was some sickness that killed many and maimed others... "pure" people, who escaped from the disease physically unscathed, are few and far between. Even Nell's highly respected family has been affected - her mother died, her father has a prosthetic arm, and Nell herself has a clockwork heart.

But then all of a sudden we are told that computers are to blame for the fall of the world. I fail to see how computers (a robot uprising?) caused such a sickness.
Computers had brought about the end of the world. Black Water City was so grateful to have survived - even if it was still sick and wheezing - that the very mention of computers was blasphemy.

Computers are so taboo that even speaking of them or of code is a huge social no-no. They avoid any technology that could be even remotely related to computers. And that's fine, but I just can't wrap my brain around why computer code is the culprit. Where did the disease, which is obviously more physically capable of bringing about the end of the world, originate from? Perhaps there were answers, but I didn't have the patience to find them.

The physically world building is also lacking. They live in Black Water City, somewhere by the sea (?). But I think it might be southern America, because they talk of a bayou.
Far outside the boundaries of Black Water City, a silent, guarded line lay between the Pale and the Pasture. The world changed there. The sick were raised and grew and contributed in the Pale; the healed lived and farmed and prayed in the tall grasslands of the Pasture.

The above quote is pretty much all that I got about the physical world. There is a Pasture filled with pure people, and the Pale filled with the sick and not-healed and physically-altered. But I was often confused as to whether it is possible for people to cross those lines. It seems like Nell and the boy who likes her, Oliver, have a chance at the Pasture. But is that a real thing? Are they just special? Or does everyone in the Pale have a chance?

I wasn't a fan of Nell. Nell is an outsider by her own design. She has few friends, is surly, and often finds others to be invading her personal space. While this sort of sounds like my personality (ha), I couldn't tell if Nell thinks that she doesn't belong with humanity because of her clockwork heart, making her a lesser being, or if she thought she was above everyone.
This was why she had to build a companion, build a boy with an electric voice, so she'd have someone to confide in when the people around her were too much to handle. Too flawed. Too human.

See, I thought that maybe Nell had a bit of an inferiority complex. She's horribly embarrassed by her heart - it audibly ticks, sometimes loudly depending on her pulse. Her only friend, Ruby, also acts as if the ticking is a personal affront. So maybe Nell feels like she needs to pull out of society, needs to be hidden from view. But then she says things that make it seem like maybe she just hates everyone because they're not on her level. She has a holier-than-thou attitude that colors every bit of her narration.

So there you have it. The world building was all over the place and I was constantly wondering how things got to where they are. It's pervasive enough to interfere with my reading. I also wasn't a fan of Nell, who either feels less than human or much more than those around her, I couldn't tell. I'm on to different books that make more sense.
Profile Image for Lauren.
198 reviews31 followers
February 20, 2018
This review can be found at http://literarywisdom.wordpress.com

There was so much depth to this novel.

This was a fantastic read, I enjoyed every moment of it.

The book was so well written, I loved the authors writing style and how she developed the plot and characters. I loved the world this was set in and how it was built upon.

Nell was a really strong main character who could be a bit cooky at times but I loved her eccentric side. She was very head strong and when she had her idea she went with it. People told her she was crazy and her idea was impossible but she did it anyway and proved everyone wrong.

I loved her friend Ruby and Oliver was a good character as well but he did annoy me at times.

Io was another great character. The way the chapters were written was amazing and unique. I didn't see the ending coming and it shocked me.

Over all this was a fantastic story and I would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Dee Clarke.
4 reviews
October 27, 2016
I had no idea what to expect, opening this book. I'm a fan of Sarah Maria Griffin's poetry and nonfiction (and tweets!), but fiction is an entirely different beast, and sci-fi settings can be so difficult to bring to life convincingly.

But if this story is nothing else, it is alive. It breathes. It's brimming with feeling.

A lot of people are uncertain about how loosely the scene is filled in - we're told that some sort of virus involving technology (I'm thinking something to do with the technological singularity, especially considering the scene with Nell's mother at the beginning of the book) has caused the Turn, changing the physical landscape of Dublin (now Black Water City) and leaving its people irrevocably damaged, missing body parts that they have to substitute with prosthetics.

We piece this scene together gradually, through suggestions and snippets, and lots of the worldbuilding is left entirely untouched. I think this is an important stylistic feature, not a flaw. This isn't a high fantasy epic that fills us to the brim with details and leaves us no room to move. That sort of story is like a Byzantine painting, chock-full and ornate and flat. Spare and Found Parts, by comparison, is like a watercolour sketch. It is loose and sparing and gestural, and we are trusted to interpret the white spaces ourselves.

After all, the driving thrust of the story isn't the setting. It's Nell, and how she responds to it. Nell's character and her emotions are the most filled-in aspects of this book and wow, are they stunning. Griffin's poetic language works so well here: from page one, I can feel what Nell is feeling and see what Nell is seeing. I don't know how people can dislike a protagonist that they see so, so honestly.

There seems to be a lot of squabble over the characters of Nell and Oliver and which is 'in the right', if such a concept can exist: I'm very much in the pro-Nell, anti-Oliver camp. I have so much personal experience and emotion tangled up in the concept of a guy following you around like a puppy dog hoping you'll eventually realise that you're 'meant to be together' and completely ignoring your vehement disinterest. No. Just no. That doesn't make you a tragic lovelorn character, Oliver, it makes you a creep!

Nell isn't a perfect character: she definitely manipulates the people around her and she won't write back to her poor Nan (which I totally understand and feel guilty about, I always fall out of contact with my family when life is going in a way I know they won't like!) but she is independent and forceful and real. I adore her. I feel so akin to her because of how masterfully Griffin conveys her trauma and anxieties and thoughts and hopes. I've been there too, and I will be there with her. When I was younger I invented so many perfect boys/girls to be my friends when relating to real people was just too difficult. I guess I still do, in different ways. I find them on pages and in movies now.

Look, I'm not doing this book justice. It's a dark and clouded and beautiful little gem and you NEED to read it to understand, because I've fallen in love with it. I have an honest-to-god crush on this book. I'm drawing some art from it in my downtime and I've been thinking about it far more than is healthy. The ruined and jungly cityscape of future Dublin is such a brilliant concept, as a person who lives there: I can't stop thinking about the Phoenix Parklands as I pass the park everyday, and Heuston Station being transformed into a waterfall, and that amazing interstellar scene in the remnants of the Lighthouse Cinema. This book has a Daft Punk soundtrack. How could I NOT fall in love with it?

This book is a weird and gorgeous and ambitious fiction debut from Sarah Maria Griffin, and I'm going to be poised over her like a creepy gargoyle waiting to see what she does next.
Profile Image for Sara (sarabara081).
672 reviews334 followers
July 20, 2016
You can find more of my reviews at Forever 17 Books.

3.5 stars!

The premise for Spare and Found Parts immediately stood out me. Here you have a post-apocalyptic world recovering after toxic electro-magnetic pulses of an event called the Turn destroyed so much and caused an epidemic among the people. Nell has never felt connected to anyone. Her father is too busy in his lab creating biomechanical limbs, her best friend often feels far away from her as well, and of course there is the boy that has been romantically pursuing her for years yet she has no interest. And then there is the pressure for her to become a great scientific contributor to society, like her parents, and time is ticking (much like her mechanical heart) down. After finding an old mannequin hand Nell is inspired, but just how far will she go to build a boy?

"Could you make a soul out of spare and found parts?"

The thought of the world being destroyed because of our constant advancements in technology feels scaringly plausible. I love the undertone of that message we find here. I must admit I had a hard time understanding this world as I was reading it, though. At least for a good long while. I think I needed a little more explanation for certain things. It's like pieces were given at random times throughout but I needed them connected better.

What I did love was Nell's determination and how she went about developing her plans to build a companion who may understand her. Her whole journey through that was amazing as well as her reactions to the discoveries along the way. The complexity of her relationships with a few characters also made this read quite enjoyable as well.

I think this novel will resonate with a lot of readers. You may need to be patient with the story to pick up, but it is definitely worth the read!
Profile Image for Dave.
Author 11 books176 followers
October 19, 2016
This is a glorious, strange, beautiful, complicated book. It's ironic the inside cover quote makes reference to being unfinished when Nell is one of the most complete protagonists I've read in a novel. She's her own person from the first page - an independent, driven, standoffish girl who barely fits inside her own skin, let alone into the complicated world of post-apocalyptic Dublin. You might not always agree with her actions, but they always feel reasoned and real - from the pressure she feels at her genius father (who's got secrets of his own) to the pain of feeling left behind by friends far more socially competent than her.

The cast of supporting characters are a perfect balance of in the foreground but also distanced to us by Nell, all except the second protagonist of the novel, who's introduction scene is one of the best things I've ever read. The language in this also deserves special note - poetic and flourishing, but homely and straightforward when required by pace and by action. There's liberal use of second-person, and I've been using this book in classes to point out that when it's done well, it's just as legitimate as first or third.

I genuinely love this book.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,609 reviews159 followers
April 16, 2017
I'm still a little baffled. What did I just read?

On one hand, it's a story about a girl who struggles to fit in. She's different, more than just the scar down her chest, more than her "tick tock" of a robotic heart, more than her dad tinkering in his basement dungeon making new limbs and mechanics. She struggles to fit in and struggles with the affection of a boy, Oliver, who has been around since forever and (no matter how mean she is) just seems to want to marry her.

It felt very "Beauty and the Beast" right? Doesn't it sound that way? Just needed her dad to be named Maurice and the guy to be Gaston and not Oliver.

And although the story was a bit slow going, I was completely okay with this storyline. But around the 280 page mark....this story completely changed. We got a second POV and a completely new perspective on all the story characters. We also had secrets and reveals and just odd storytelling. It didn't seem to match the previous pages. It felt rushed and incomplete and too little too late. If the story had held that way all through, I probably would have loved it. But all those pages to slog through Nell's discomfort only to not really learn more about her just felt pointless.
Profile Image for Dreximgirl.
1,031 reviews23 followers
June 17, 2018
I enjoyed the overall concept of this story but I do think it was a little lacking in the application. I really wanted a lot more world building, many things were hinted at but left unexplored and other things simply not explained at all.

The thing I struggled with most was the changing from second to third person. This happened a lot and wasn't limited to specific characters. Sometimes it was really confusing as to who it was until a few lines into the page.

I liked Nell as a character though and Oliver too. The story was interesting and overall I liked it but there are just those few niggles which mean I can't really rate it much higher.
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