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Fires of Invention

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Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an eve Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on—and quite possibly their very lives.


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Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an eve Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on—and quite possibly their very lives.

30 review for Fires of Invention

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    Dragons, steampunk, steampunk dragons!! My son devoured this book. The world and characters sucked him in from the first chapter and it was another single day read for him. Any book that has your kid asking for the next in the series right away is a winner. AR book level 5.0. Readers may also enjoy The Lost Kingdom by Mathew Kirby, The League of Seven by Alan Grantz, Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland , or The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. -Alexis S.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    Alright time to write the review for this book. I was approved a copy of this book from NetGalley, but I never ended up downloading it before it was archived, so because I like J. Scott Savage's Far World series, I bought myself a copy. So obviously the opinions in this review are completely my own. This is a fun steampunk fantasy that's a bit strange in where it fits in terms of reading age bracket. I classified it as middle grade seeing as the main character is 13, but there is a bit of a focu Alright time to write the review for this book. I was approved a copy of this book from NetGalley, but I never ended up downloading it before it was archived, so because I like J. Scott Savage's Far World series, I bought myself a copy. So obviously the opinions in this review are completely my own. This is a fun steampunk fantasy that's a bit strange in where it fits in terms of reading age bracket. I classified it as middle grade seeing as the main character is 13, but there is a bit of a focus on romance which makes me want to put it as that in-between section with The School for Good and Evil and the later books in long series like Ranger's Apprentice and Artemis Fowl. Trenton's society lives inside of a mountain completely cut off from the outside world apart from a filtered air duct that brings in fresh oxygen. In all other ways the society is self sufficient in their food sources and energy production. The society actually reminded me somewhat of a The Giver one where it's completely shut out, complacent, and everything about you is decided by a council of elders who "knows best". This was a big plus for me because as you may know, I love The Giver Quartet. The novel sets up a lot of questions about their location and culture straight off which I enjoyed finding out about as the story progressed. Why are they there in the first place? Is that really the reason? Why are they only using a method of energy that is actually pretty harmful to the environment? Trenton was a bit refreshing for me as a middle grade character. He's not that super-sarcastic, witty, know-it-all punk who gives a lot of lip but you can't help but root for. He's a bit unsure of himself and has a more narrow scope of thinking. He's awkward and honest and intelligent in a way that isn't overpowering. I think at times he could annoy me from his seemingly random decisions on what to believe and what not to. I think I heard Marines (mynameismarines) say this once and I agree that when something concrete and "completely unbelievable" happens to a character and they're just like, "No, I can't believe my society is actually crummy. No way," it is a little ridiculous. But Trenton is an easily accessible male protagonist that I think a lot of middle grade readers would be happy to get behind. There was a completely unnecessary love triangle-ish thing which bothered me. He very obviously didn't care about one of the interests in that way and was actually leading her on which I thought was a bad message. No, kids, don't lead people on if you can take advantage of their feelings for you. It doesn't end well in real life. Now, I think this is a realistic flaw that some people have (the inability to shut someone's advances down), but I think it would have been better in terms of moral lessons to have Trenton overcome that flaw. Also because I was talking about some of the side characters, I found myself not feeling for any of them. Clyde specifically was pretty random. It seemed like out of the blue they were best buds? One last negative thing which was the real kicker for me. I hate the "evil" or bad (dangerously neglectful) parents trope. I just don't find it enjoyable or an even mostly realistic element that can be added to a story. I have never met any parents in my life who would purposely cause any type of harm to their child. I know it can happen, but the amount of it in literature is a bit over-representing. I'd rather have all the characters be orphans and their caretakers be apathetic than the malicious parent. I'm just quite sick of it, and so when it showed up here, I rolled my eyes and pushed myself through those bits. The plot was great. It was a fun mystery that the characters had to solve step by step. It was kind of like an epic scavenger hunt which I love, so I was definitely in for that. I think J. Scott Savage does a fantastic job of always leaving you predictable plot curves with the more unpredictable twists, so you get to feel good about guessing the former and excited by the latter. He did the same thing with his Far World series, and it was one of my favorite things about it. Didn't love the epilogue probably because of the paragraph above this one, but everything else was superb. Oh also the format of the chapter pages was awesome! I loved seeing the mechanical dragon slowly get more parts filled in as the chapters went by, and the actual cover is captivating as well. So overall, I did enjoy this novel. The world building and actual plot has me excited to see what happens next, but the smaller details were the ones that grated on me a little more than I thought they would. I'd definitely recommend this series to young readers who have an interest in building machines or unique world set ups. I think this series will be going in a very fantastical direction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Porter

    I don't give many books 5 star ratings, but this one deserves it. I had recently fallen into a dry spell of reading when Jeff (the author) contacted me and asked me to read a very early rough draft of this book. I read it in basically 2 sittings. I don't think I'm allowed to say anything about it, but it is the first book in a very long time where I simply "had" to keep reading. The ending is fantastic, the characters are well-defined, and it's definitely one of J. Scott Savage's best published w I don't give many books 5 star ratings, but this one deserves it. I had recently fallen into a dry spell of reading when Jeff (the author) contacted me and asked me to read a very early rough draft of this book. I read it in basically 2 sittings. I don't think I'm allowed to say anything about it, but it is the first book in a very long time where I simply "had" to keep reading. The ending is fantastic, the characters are well-defined, and it's definitely one of J. Scott Savage's best published works.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Helena Donaldson

    Fires of Invention was an enjoyable read, though one of the few where I enjoyed the setting more than the characters. Trenton lives in a secluded civilization called Cove where innovation is discouraged, and rule breakers are threatened with re-education. Trenton, of course, is a rule breaker and what would be considered an inventor now (but there, the word invention is a curse word). He later crosses paths with the daughter of the mad, and now deceased, inventor named Leo Babbage. Kallista soon Fires of Invention was an enjoyable read, though one of the few where I enjoyed the setting more than the characters. Trenton lives in a secluded civilization called Cove where innovation is discouraged, and rule breakers are threatened with re-education. Trenton, of course, is a rule breaker and what would be considered an inventor now (but there, the word invention is a curse word). He later crosses paths with the daughter of the mad, and now deceased, inventor named Leo Babbage. Kallista soon convinces him to change his thinking and accept inventions. Throughout the book, they are attempting to solve the puzzle that Leo Babbage laid out before his death. This was a lighthearted read. No emo or teen anxiety. This was one of the rare fantasy books where you can sit back and enjoy the read without worrying over the next chapter of gore or played-up romance. It was a nice break. I am a thirteen year old, but I found that this book could be read by much younger audiences, provide they have opportunity to understand the mechanical terms and vocabulary. I adored the steampunk aspects of the book. Dragons+Machines=Complete Adoration in my Heart. It might sound unimportant, but I had such a sense of triumph and satisfaction while the process of the completion of the dragon drew to a close. Who doesn't love dragons? I will definitely look into the second book in this series. There was so much character development and discovery of the history of the Cove, I can't wait to see more. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoy a slow build of building excitement.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    One word: AMAZING! Okay, that isn't all I'm going to say, but that word sums up this book perfectly. I absolutely loved this book. The imagination and creativity involved in this story is mind-blowing. I'm not surprised though, Jeff is an extremely talented author who dazzles me every time I read one of his books. I loved how it was illegal to think outside of the box, to change things, to invent something new. I won't get into the history of Cove in my review, but it is fascinating. Cove is a tr One word: AMAZING! Okay, that isn't all I'm going to say, but that word sums up this book perfectly. I absolutely loved this book. The imagination and creativity involved in this story is mind-blowing. I'm not surprised though, Jeff is an extremely talented author who dazzles me every time I read one of his books. I loved how it was illegal to think outside of the box, to change things, to invent something new. I won't get into the history of Cove in my review, but it is fascinating. Cove is a treasure trove of secrets. I really liked Trenton. I think of him as a talented young man with wondrous potential and ingenuity. Kallista needed to grow on me for a bit, but quickly she won me over too, she's has a sad history. Trenton is dealt a major blow early on, and is betrayed by someone close to him, but as the story goes, there are reasons. I loved the adventure the two take on to solve the mystery of what Kallista's father left behind. Can't wait for book 2, why can't time go faster?!? 5 out of 5 stars. This book was a joy to read, another testament as to why I love middle grade fiction so much! Bravo, Jeff! I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jolene Perry

    Great adventure. Great characters. Great relationships, twists, and complications. I also love that after taking a few classes from the author, I can see his pacing techniques at work. FUN, FUN read. Highly recommend for people who love adventurous MG, and bonus if you love steampunk.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    Oh boy. What a fun book this was! If you like steampunk, if you like dragons, if you like STEAMPUNK DRAGONS, I guarantee Fires of Invention is a book you will enjoy. Here's the scoop on the plot: Trenton Coleman is always getting in trouble for being too creative. In Cove, his city home inside a mountain, creativity is frowned upon and punished, and "inventor" and "invention" are curse words. When he stumbles upon a machinery part like nothing he's ever seen before, and nobody else knows what it Oh boy. What a fun book this was! If you like steampunk, if you like dragons, if you like STEAMPUNK DRAGONS, I guarantee Fires of Invention is a book you will enjoy. Here's the scoop on the plot: Trenton Coleman is always getting in trouble for being too creative. In Cove, his city home inside a mountain, creativity is frowned upon and punished, and "inventor" and "invention" are curse words. When he stumbles upon a machinery part like nothing he's ever seen before, and nobody else knows what it is either, Trenton is reluctantly pulled into the world of Kallista Babbage, daughter of infamous inventor Leo Babbage, whose name is synonymous with insanity and dangerous creativity. Together Trenton and Kallista begin collecting the clues and parts Leo Babbage left for his daughter in various places around Cove and assembling them into an unapproved machine. All the while, Trenton is conflicted because he's been taught his whole life that inventing is dangerous and wrong, yet he can't curb his curiosity and creativity. And little do the two teens know that the greatest danger isn't getting sent to retraining as punishment for inventing, but something lurking outside the mountain that could wipe out the entire population of Cove. Things I enjoyed about the book: I loved the excitement I could feel in Trenton and Kallista as they were following her dad's clues and putting his invention together. I could tell they loved discovering new things, and their excitement got me excited about it too. I also loved the big reveal about what was actually dangerous outside the mountain. That was a plot twist worthy of Brandon Mull. (And if you've read the Mr. Mull's Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, you'll know what I mean--when Navarog showed up unexpectedly?! This plot twist was awesome like that.) And speaking of Brandon Mull... I went to the launch party for Mysteries of Cove, during which a bunch of different local authors put on a stage show where Brandon Mull played the overbearing chancellor of Cove. So every time the chancellor appeared in the book, I would picture Brandon Mull in his flamboyant coat and top hat that he wore for the stage show, which just made the whole experience even more enjoyable. (view spoiler)[And when the dragon showed up and ate him, I was kind of like, "Ha! That's totally a nod to Raxtus eating that guy in Fablehaven 4!" (hide spoiler)] Another thing I liked about this book was how Trenton made the best of a situation he didn't like with his job placement. He wanted desperately to be a mechanic, but got placed in food production instead. Although he could have been bitter and depressed about being stuck in a job he didn't want for the rest of his life, he worked hard and ended up playing a key role in finding parts for Leo Babbage's invention because of his job on the farm. I also thought it sent a really great message that Trenton forgave both his mother and his friend Simoni for their respective betrayals. In the same situation, probably most people (including me) would not be so kind, but I think it would've made me sad if the book had ended with Trenton holding grudges against them. A note about content: this book is totally clean. No swearing, no sex (barely any kissing either), and minimal violence. It's marketed for a middle-grade audience, so what else did you expect? And honestly, I like it that way. All in all, a highly enjoyable book and a very promising start to a new middle-grade series! I look forward to the release of book 2.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Netgalley.com Trenton loves tools and machinery, but in his futuristic, protected town of Cove "invention" is a dirty word. Even stringing together a number of approved machinery to make a swing is enough to land him in trouble with the chancellors and get him recommended for retraining. Luckily, there is a problem in the mines that requires a small person with mechanical training to fix, and Trenton manages to escape that fate. What he can't escape is his appointment to the Food Produ E ARC from Netgalley.com Trenton loves tools and machinery, but in his futuristic, protected town of Cove "invention" is a dirty word. Even stringing together a number of approved machinery to make a swing is enough to land him in trouble with the chancellors and get him recommended for retraining. Luckily, there is a problem in the mines that requires a small person with mechanical training to fix, and Trenton manages to escape that fate. What he can't escape is his appointment to the Food Production level of Cove after his graduation from school. On the one hand, he gets to be near Simoni, a girl he really likes, but on the other, there is no equipment for him to fix. When a strange gadget he has found leads him to the Kallista, the daughter of infamous inventor and criminal Leo Babbage, he finally has an outlet for his mechanical leanings. Kallista thinks the gadget, found in the mine, is a message from her father, and the two follow clues that were left-- clues that lead to instructions and parts of a mechanical dragon that the two build, as well as to deeply hidden secrets about the founding and workings of Cove itself. With the aid of Simoni, as well as the unexpected help of Angus, the son of the cancellor, Trenton and Kallista learn that their world is not what it seems, and have to decide how to proceed. Strengths: There aren't a lot of books for readers who like machinery, and this combines gears and cogs with puzzles leading to the equipment's discovery. The characters are well-developed and appealing; Trenton's love of machinery despite all of the obstacles he faces shows his passion. Cove is described very well, from the details of the different levels to two different versions of its history. Weaknesses; The concept of the government choosing jobs for young people has been done several times, but there are other fresh twists that make up for this. What I really think: Steampunk-like but not exactly. Reminded me of City of Ember. Solid action/adventure fantasy with some fresh facets. Will purchase.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katt Hansen

    I do love a good story of civilization gone into hiding, and this is no exception. The Cove is a mountain hideaway, that was created in the beginning of the 20th century (think about what that implies historically speaking for a bit. Go ahead, I'll wait) and has lasted for 150 years. After all this time, of course things are breaking down, but somewhere in the mix creativity became outlawed, and there is no worse offense than in being an INVENTOR. Our scrappy teens of course are the creative sor I do love a good story of civilization gone into hiding, and this is no exception. The Cove is a mountain hideaway, that was created in the beginning of the 20th century (think about what that implies historically speaking for a bit. Go ahead, I'll wait) and has lasted for 150 years. After all this time, of course things are breaking down, but somewhere in the mix creativity became outlawed, and there is no worse offense than in being an INVENTOR. Our scrappy teens of course are the creative sorts, following clues left by a dead father with a reputation for (ahem) 'improving' on accepted technology. As the story progresses, we find out just how fragile things are, and how close everything is to falling apart. This is a good story that I couldn't put down. I can't wait to see what comes next for these characters that I've come to know and love. Of course there is always the burning question - will Trenton ever figure out girls? I was pulled in by the mechanical dragon on the cover. I'm glad to see that the book itself lived up to the artwork. This is one that I'll grab the next book as soon as it comes out.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    The first book in this series was recommend to me by my nephew Jonah, age 11. He loved it and I can see why. This dystopian/steampunk story revolves around 13 year old Trenton Colman, who is creative in a world that harshly punishes anyone who rocks the status quo, and Kallista Babbage, who is year or so older than Trenton. She comes with her own baggage, and awesome mechanical skills. The community in this story retreated inside a mountain when the outside environment became too dangerous. Base The first book in this series was recommend to me by my nephew Jonah, age 11. He loved it and I can see why. This dystopian/steampunk story revolves around 13 year old Trenton Colman, who is creative in a world that harshly punishes anyone who rocks the status quo, and Kallista Babbage, who is year or so older than Trenton. She comes with her own baggage, and awesome mechanical skills. The community in this story retreated inside a mountain when the outside environment became too dangerous. Based on the cover, you know that the story also involves dragons. This fast paced book is targeted for middle grade readers, and I think works great for that age group. As an adult reader, I wanted more depth, more exploration of the themes touched upon, more character development, more world building. I also found the romantic love triangle a forced and unnecessary device. I read it in a couple of sittings, and while it was a quick, if light ride, I don't plan on continuing with the series. If you are interested in a community living underground story, I'd recommend you might try the Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Savage makes you think, in a good way, from the first page of this book. You have to re-wire your brain almost as you dig into this world where words like invention and creativity are as frowned upon as lying and stealing! Since I'm a creative type, I really struggled with the re-wiring at first, but then I saw the plot begin to develop, and I could see how a society could become to wrapped up in it's self that it could fear any sort of change, or inventive improvement. This book is a total page Savage makes you think, in a good way, from the first page of this book. You have to re-wire your brain almost as you dig into this world where words like invention and creativity are as frowned upon as lying and stealing! Since I'm a creative type, I really struggled with the re-wiring at first, but then I saw the plot begin to develop, and I could see how a society could become to wrapped up in it's self that it could fear any sort of change, or inventive improvement. This book is a total page turner, and is written in a way that it's easy to picture the fascinating world of Cove, and all that Trenton and Kallista go through. I cried at the ending, but I can't wait to see where Savage takes us next!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    I was so excited to be able to read an eARC of this book. I loved every second of it! Kids are going to go crazy for this book when it's released this fall. It was so well written, chock full of action, had fascinating and relatable characters, mysteries to keep you dying to find out what happens next, and incredible amounts of conflict. I can't wait until this book is available! I was so excited to be able to read an eARC of this book. I loved every second of it! Kids are going to go crazy for this book when it's released this fall. It was so well written, chock full of action, had fascinating and relatable characters, mysteries to keep you dying to find out what happens next, and incredible amounts of conflict. I can't wait until this book is available!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Cove is an underground city that was built to protect its people from a deadly plague that ravaged the world above. At least that is what they are told. In Cove, everything must be preapproved by the Chancellor. Art or invention or free thinking are strictly forbidden and can lead to "retraining". Everything is regulated in Cove including what your job will be and what you are eating for dinner. Trenton has just graduated from school and is looking forward to becoming a mechanic. He is therefore Cove is an underground city that was built to protect its people from a deadly plague that ravaged the world above. At least that is what they are told. In Cove, everything must be preapproved by the Chancellor. Art or invention or free thinking are strictly forbidden and can lead to "retraining". Everything is regulated in Cove including what your job will be and what you are eating for dinner. Trenton has just graduated from school and is looking forward to becoming a mechanic. He is therefore devastated when he is assigned to food production instead. He thinks it is because he just got in trouble for building an unapproved swing, but it is really because his mom thinks he could be dangerous. He gets out of trouble because there is a problem in the mines and he is the only one small enough to fit. He finds a strange piece of metal that leads him to Kallista Babbage, whose father infamously blew himself up. Together Trenton and Kallista embark on a quest to find all the pieces of the puzzle Leo Babbage left for them and build whatever machine he designed. This has a Giver/City of Ember vibe and doesn't live up to those comparisons. I feel like this story has been done before but the addition of dragons does take it into a more fantasy realm than strictly dystopian future. I liked Trenton and Kallista as characters and was interested in their story as they work against the system and find out the truth about Cove. What I didn't like were the secondary characters who all seemed pretty flat. I also thought the emphasis on the romance between Trenton and Simony was strange. The kids are only 12 and there is no mention that Cove society pairs couple at young ages, but the seriousness of this relationship seems to be for much older kids. It seemed a weird choice for a middle grade book. Of course, without the romantic relationship the conflict at the end would not have been set up so easily.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

    This is the first book in the Mysteries of Cove series. This book started out a bit slow but I really enjoyed the last third or so of it. The last part of the book was enough to really pull me in and make me want to read more of this series. This is marketed as a middle grade steampunk book; which it really isn't. It is more of a middle grade dystopian novel. The society of Cove is definitely a dystopia of sorts. The only steampunk element in this book is that our two main heroes build a dragon This is the first book in the Mysteries of Cove series. This book started out a bit slow but I really enjoyed the last third or so of it. The last part of the book was enough to really pull me in and make me want to read more of this series. This is marketed as a middle grade steampunk book; which it really isn't. It is more of a middle grade dystopian novel. The society of Cove is definitely a dystopia of sorts. The only steampunk element in this book is that our two main heroes build a dragon out of metal and it is driven by a combustion engine. There are no other steampunky items in here. That doesn't mean this isn't a good book. I really enjoyed some of the twists and turns at the end of the book and thought the book was well written. I enjoyed the characters as well, they were easy to relate to. Additionally, I loved the crazy hunt for secrets our characters end up on. I would like to say that, although the mechanical dragon makes an impressive cover, it is a huge spoiler for this book. Part of the huge mystery in this book is what Trenton and Kallista are building and the cover spoils this mystery right away...very poor cover choice in my opinion. It spoiled a lot of the story for me. Overall I really enjoyed this dystopian middle grade novel. There are some really unique story elements especially at the end. I enjoyed the characters and the riddles they have to solve throughout. My 10 year old son did start this book but stopped reading it because he thought the beginning was boring. I agree...the beginning was boring, but the ending made it all worth it. I convinced him to pick it up again and finish it so we'll see what he thinks. I plan on continuing the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    EmmaRodriguez

    The story told by J. Scott Savage in his book Fires of Invention is a wonderous and captivating one. The story is placed in a distopian future in which the main character, Trenton, lives with his father and disabled mother in a city made in a carved out mountain called Cove. The people of Cove are told that the outside world is no longer fit for life as human kind has polluted it and killed it. Because of this, the city's rulers declared that any creation or new invention would be outlawed as to The story told by J. Scott Savage in his book Fires of Invention is a wonderous and captivating one. The story is placed in a distopian future in which the main character, Trenton, lives with his father and disabled mother in a city made in a carved out mountain called Cove. The people of Cove are told that the outside world is no longer fit for life as human kind has polluted it and killed it. Because of this, the city's rulers declared that any creation or new invention would be outlawed as to not bring to pass the same mistakes created by their ancestors. However, as Trenton finds a mysterious new object, one that is not allowed in the city, he begins to question what might be the real truth of Cove. The story reels the reader in with the many mysteries and puzzle peices that Trenton must put together. Along the way he encounters many indivuals: some who help him, some who hate him, and even some who betray his trust. I found myself turning page after page, working with Trenton to get to the bottom of what was really going on in this strange little city in the center of a mountain. Overall I would rate this book a four out of five and would recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure with plenty of mysteries along the way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I really enjoyed this story, and wanted to continue reading to find out what was going to happen next in the story, and discover where the story was going. It was very entertaining, and full of adventure. I felt that this book did bare a few resemblances to The City of Ember though. It wasn’t until getting through quite a bit of the book that the story felt very different. The general idea of the city of cove, and how the city was run, reminded me the most of The City of Ember. However, the adve I really enjoyed this story, and wanted to continue reading to find out what was going to happen next in the story, and discover where the story was going. It was very entertaining, and full of adventure. I felt that this book did bare a few resemblances to The City of Ember though. It wasn’t until getting through quite a bit of the book that the story felt very different. The general idea of the city of cove, and how the city was run, reminded me the most of The City of Ember. However, the adventure the children where on in the city was much different. I found myself surprised a handful of times by the turns this book took. The only real problem with this book is the same problem with most young adult books, and that is the age of the main characters, they are just so young for the adventure they are on and the romance moments. However I still really enjoyed this book, and I can hardly wait to finish the series.

  17. 5 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    I read this one with my twins and we really enjoyed it. It's a fun story. I especially liked the imaginative setting--a society that has moved completely underground, supposedly to escape widespread pollution. Creativity and curiosity are outlawed. But the main characters, Trenton and Kallista, can't help asking questions and wanting to make things better. Nor can they help following clues left by a "criminal" inventor (all inventors are criminal in Cove) or assembling all the parts they find in I read this one with my twins and we really enjoyed it. It's a fun story. I especially liked the imaginative setting--a society that has moved completely underground, supposedly to escape widespread pollution. Creativity and curiosity are outlawed. But the main characters, Trenton and Kallista, can't help asking questions and wanting to make things better. Nor can they help following clues left by a "criminal" inventor (all inventors are criminal in Cove) or assembling all the parts they find into a mechanical, steam-powered dragon. This is a good choice for middle grade readers. We're looking forward to the rest of the series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is an interesting dystopian future where things are not what they seem. It starts a bit slow but it picks up 'steam' and gets really good. The main characters are easy to like, Trenton and Kallista are developed well but there are times where you want to yell at Trenton but I digress. Solid book, onto book 2. This is an interesting dystopian future where things are not what they seem. It starts a bit slow but it picks up 'steam' and gets really good. The main characters are easy to like, Trenton and Kallista are developed well but there are times where you want to yell at Trenton but I digress. Solid book, onto book 2.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wyatt A

    I loved this book. The reason I gave it five stars is that it takes you into thinking something is going to happen then it just does a complete 180. It is a mystery and science fiction so if that is what you like you need to read this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily Bates

    STEAMPUNK DRAGONS!! That cover was enough to sell me. Really enjoyed the mystery and the puzzle of it, as well as the characters, particularly Kallista.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Stimpson

    Action, adventure, romantic tension, and STEAMPUNK. This is a really fun read with a fantastic lesson about the importance of CREATIVITY. Looking forward to passing this one on to my kids.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Traci Brown

    Listened to this audiobook with my kids. They all really loved it, and I was happy to listen to it, too! A great way to keep them happy in the car, etc.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Malorie (Firereader)

    Loved this! All things mechanical and dragoney and lots of adventure. The characters and plot were very well developed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Licalsi

    I enjoyed exploring the world it was set in but that exploration didn’t take away from the characters and adventure in front of them. This story was well put together from a plot perspective with twists and turns until the end. I look forward to reading more in this series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    T.J.

    I liked this better than I anticipated. J Scott Savage is a great storyteller, and the twists and turns he places make this a fun read. One of the reasons I read it was because my son loves this series so much and keeps wanting Savage to write more of Cove.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    You can support my blog by reading this review at amandakthompson.blogspot.com I want to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC. A major thing I love about this book is that there is definitely the feel of a dystopian or post-apocalyptic society here, but it isn't depressing. I'm very tired of the no-hope, doomed-civilization worlds. With Fires of Invention, there's a fun, playful essence to the story that's infectious. It's just a group of people who decided to hole themselves You can support my blog by reading this review at amandakthompson.blogspot.com I want to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC. A major thing I love about this book is that there is definitely the feel of a dystopian or post-apocalyptic society here, but it isn't depressing. I'm very tired of the no-hope, doomed-civilization worlds. With Fires of Invention, there's a fun, playful essence to the story that's infectious. It's just a group of people who decided to hole themselves up in a mountain because overuse of technology poisoned the air outside and that's just their life. It's a (mostly) normal little society -no Hunger Games, no aptitude test, just good old fashioned job placement. But back to that 'holed themselves up in the mountain' thing. I was a little wary at first when the characters talked about how the sky was poisoned by too much technology because I didn't want to be beat over the head with environmental strong-arm tactics and that wasn't the intent at all. Imagine my joy to find that this is straight up, really truly, an actual plot device to further the story. Because of this outside sky poisoning, inside Cove 'inventing' and being 'creative' are the worst crimes comprehensible. Of course our main character rather excels at that. Trenton is a mechanic who wants nothing more than to improve the poor, often ill-maintained machinery their society runs on and, while he doesn't want to be a cursed Inventor, sometimes he just can't help but see a better way to do things. Throw in Kallista Babbage, daughter of an Inventor and murderer, on the hunt for her father's last invention and -yeah, I call that a party. The story unfolds at a good pace, giving us a mystery within the first few chapters to keep our attention until things really start to unfold. For this reason, this book could be easily handed to a middle grade or YA reader and I doubt they would even notice. Coupled with the great characters and the fantastic if eerie underground steampunk setting, this one's a win. Both of our main characters understand machines and blueprints far better than they do people and emotions, which means the awkward interactions (<3 <3 <3!!) are frequent, endearing, and great points of character and relationship development. Speaking of relationships... One thing I really admired is that, in the story, Trenton and his mother don't get along very well. Savage handled it so well because -despite Trenton's frustration and anger with his mother, how he makes her stew and stings her with barbed comments in his anger- Savage never makes his mother the bad guy. Trenton's angry with her, he's hurt by her actions, and he doesn't understand why she's trying to ruin his dreams. He certainly doesn't like her for a good portion of the book, but despite all that I never felt that she was truly villainized and I have immense respect for Savage for that, especially since this is a children's book. But that's not the only tricky parent/child relationship Savage handles and the second one is much subtler. Leo Babbage is hinted to be much like Trenton in the respect that he understands mechanics much more than people and we see how this affected Kallista's upbringing and personality, and how it affects her relationship with Trenton. We don't see too much on the actual relationship between father and daughter, but I'm hoping we get more flashbacks/details in the sequel. *crosses fingers* Minor characters are given good depth alongside our heroes and, even better, roles to play in the story's conclusion. I love it when that happens. The one exception for this was Clyde who, admittedly, didn't have a whole lot to offer in the climax. I don't even know what he would have done. I just liked the character and wanted to see him involved. The fact that he didn't isn't bad for the story, but it does mean that I will be watching out for Clyde's role in future books because he'll have to do something important eventually. Oh, right. Did I mention that huge mechanical, FIRE-BREATHING dragon? Each chapter is headed by an illustration of this steampunk awesomeness, as it is being built one gear and mechanism at a time. But what's it doing in the story? Dude, you have to find that out for yourself!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I received an eARC (Electronic Advance Reader Copy) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Trenton lives in Cove, a city that sealed itself inside a mountain 150 years ago in order to escape an atmosphere poisoned by war and technology. As technology destroyed the world, only the most basic of machines are allowed in Cove, and any creativity is forbidden. “Invent” and all forms of the word are considered foul language, and calling someone an “inventor” is the harshest of insults. Trenton I received an eARC (Electronic Advance Reader Copy) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Trenton lives in Cove, a city that sealed itself inside a mountain 150 years ago in order to escape an atmosphere poisoned by war and technology. As technology destroyed the world, only the most basic of machines are allowed in Cove, and any creativity is forbidden. “Invent” and all forms of the word are considered foul language, and calling someone an “inventor” is the harshest of insults. Trenton, an eighth-grade, almost-fourteen-year-old, mechanical prodigy, struggles to quell his creativity. His impulses get him into trouble with authorities, but fortunately, he’s able to appease their anger by using his small stature and machinery skills to fix a jammed coal feeder. Trenton pulls a mysterious metal tube out of the feeder and upon closer inspection realizes that it shouldn't exist in Cove. Trenton is soon joined on his adventure by Kallista Babbage, the orphaned daughter of shamed inventor Leo Babbage, who blew up a building while working on unapproved technology a little over a year ago. Convinced that the machinery is a coded message from her late father, Kallista eagerly sets out to solve the puzzle. As Trenton and Kallista work their way through the clues, they discover more machinery and begin to piece it together. Kallista's father didn't just leave her a message, but a machine. The big questions: "What is it?" and "Why?" Cove is a beautifully built world, with its culture, infrastructure, and dimensions being skillfully introduced throughout the book. I had questions while reading, all of which were eventually answered—sometimes in wholly unexpected ways. While dealing with the mystery of the metal tube, Trenton also deals with the conflicts of growing up. He’s learning about himself and lacks some confidence. For example, he believes himself to be impulsive and unable to think things through, yet with Kallista, he’s the more cautious, big-picture partner. He is obsessed with machines and doesn’t think he could ever enjoy any other activity, but when forced into a different line of work, he discovers that he can appreciate non-mechanical interests. A sweet, innocent romance gets introduced as the young characters take their first baby steps into the realm of crushes and relationships--all of which is rather terrifying for Trenton. At home, he struggles to maintain a relationship with his parents, as he’s attempting to forge his own identity and doesn’t always agree with their ideas of what his life should be like. The scavenger-hunt puzzle Trenton and Kallista follow kept my attention and continually opened up new aspects of Cove. Just when I thought they’d figured it all out, something new came up and took me by surprise. Yet even the most surprising surprises had been hinted at previously, keeping the pace and plotting solid. My one issue with the book involves the way Trenton figures out the meaning of the shapes on the metal tube. Leo Babbage deliberately placed all of the other clues, leaving nothing to chance, yet Trenton’s epiphany with the first tube feels like pure luck. If he hadn’t been assigned to one particular area, which itself was an unlikely occurrence, then the hunt would have ended. Likewise, Kallista had no reason to be in the area to ever figure it out on her own. This book has strong themes of censorship, technology ethics, isolationism, and oppressive government. Each of these is explored in ways appropriate for a middle-grade audience. I see possible parallels with the study of Japanese isolationism, current events involving technology debates, and the roles of government, education, and creativity in our personal lives and communities. • No harsh language • Sweet romance—holding hands and cheek-kissing • Violence includes battle violence and implied torture; deaths are mentioned but not gory • No drug/alcohol use

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I'm modifying my review because, apparently, I can't form a proper sentence after finishing a book in the middle of the night. Thank you, grammar police, for not arresting me so my typos could live to see another day. Fires of Invention converted me to the world of steampunk. I would've LOVED this book as a kid, and I can't help but wonder if discovering steampunk at a younger age would've influenced my career choices (or at least helped me appreciate math). Parents, if your kid loves math and l I'm modifying my review because, apparently, I can't form a proper sentence after finishing a book in the middle of the night. Thank you, grammar police, for not arresting me so my typos could live to see another day. Fires of Invention converted me to the world of steampunk. I would've LOVED this book as a kid, and I can't help but wonder if discovering steampunk at a younger age would've influenced my career choices (or at least helped me appreciate math). Parents, if your kid loves math and loves building things, get this book into his/her hands now! I love that most of the book focused on building an invention, and I especially loved how Trenton pursued creativity. Fires of Invention is a story with deep messages, but J. Scott Savage made the lessons applicable to young teens AND still made Trenton a relatable character. I loved how small issues in Trenton's life reminded me he's just a normal kid with girl problems. J. Scott Savage impressed on me that Trenton thinks differently from most kids, but the lesson I took away is that all kids think a little differently and we should celebrate those differences. I never ever ever saw the twist coming! Usually I can make a good guess, but this came out of NOWHERE (but still totally made sense). Just when I thought I knew Trenton's world and how it functioned, the author lifted a veil to remind me there's a bigger world outside Cove that I'm dying to explore in the sequel. I so very much enjoyed Fires of Invention from beginning to end. Yesterday (in the middle of the night, mind you) I removed a star because it almost made me sad to think I didn't read this book as a kid! But that's just silly. First of all, this wasn't even published when I was a kid. Second of all, this book is excellent—I'm recommending it to all my friends and ESPECIALLY their young children. I couldn't peel myself away from this book when the climax began. I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel. This is a book that will change young lives.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Oh. My. Goodness. This book is amazing! I loved everything about this book. It is so well-written that you almost feel as though you are there with Trenton, Simoni, and Kallista. I loved the setting that J Scott Savage created for his characters to inhabit. They live in the city of Cove, it's built deep within a mountain to try to keep the evils of the creative world outside the mountain from getting in. The citizens of Cove are not allowed to create anything new, to them inventor is a bad word Oh. My. Goodness. This book is amazing! I loved everything about this book. It is so well-written that you almost feel as though you are there with Trenton, Simoni, and Kallista. I loved the setting that J Scott Savage created for his characters to inhabit. They live in the city of Cove, it's built deep within a mountain to try to keep the evils of the creative world outside the mountain from getting in. The citizens of Cove are not allowed to create anything new, to them inventor is a bad word and anyone caught inventing anything is sent for retraining. The problem is that most people are at least a little creative, and they like to think about how things can be made better. Trenton is one of those people. He's about to graduate from their public school system and start learning his trade, which he is sure will be mechanic, but he gets caught inventing a swing to impress the girl he likes and is arrested without question. Jeopardizing his whole career path. He's allowed one chance to redeem himself. He must crawl up a small tube and discover just what's jammed a conveyor belt. What he finds there will set his life on a course that will change everything for himself, his family and even the whole city of Cove. The characters in this book are really well done as well. I liked Trenton and Simoni. But Kallista, well...at first I have to admit that I didn't like her at all. But once I was able to kind of get to know her a little bit, I could kind of understand why she was the way that she was. And she really did grow on me, by the end of the book, I was rooting for her. I loved the plot. This is really a unique story that draws the reader in from the very first, it's written for kids 8-12, but I have to say that even adults will love it. I know from the ending that there must be more to Trenton and Kallista's story, I truly hope that it comes quickly!

  30. 5 out of 5

    LibraryDanielle

    Trenton lives in a strange dystopian world. it isn't the "future" but it isn't quite steampunk either. from what I could gather about the dates it's ridge around the late 90's, not they the year matters much. The society that Trenton lives in its strictly controlled. but not as strict as some dystopians. Foods ate regulated (This day is beef, that is fish), but families choose how to prepare each meal. Students also are assigned their career based on aptitude tests. Creativity and invention ates Trenton lives in a strange dystopian world. it isn't the "future" but it isn't quite steampunk either. from what I could gather about the dates it's ridge around the late 90's, not they the year matters much. The society that Trenton lives in its strictly controlled. but not as strict as some dystopians. Foods ate regulated (This day is beef, that is fish), but families choose how to prepare each meal. Students also are assigned their career based on aptitude tests. Creativity and invention ates STRICTLY prohibited, with infractions resulting in "retraining" (we never fully discover what retraining is though). as usual, most of society is content with this system. but Trenton is bored. he likes machines and wants to make them better. we guest meet him as he's creating an unauthorized invention- a modified swing. he is discovered, and escapes retraining when he frees a jam in a coal feeder. the cause of the jam is a mysterious tube. the tube intrigues Trenton and it leads him on an adventure where he meets Kallista, an infamous inventor's daughter, and discovers that things aren't quite what they seem. I enjoyed this very much. the dystopian overtones and the surprise at the end were so much fun. the world is clear, worth the exception of the mysterious retraining, and the characters well developed. the only thing that kept nagging at me was the infamous inventor's name: Leo Babbage. it kept reminding me of Rick Riordan's Leo and I'd have to take a second to remember that I wasn't in that world. it did get jarring and annoying after a while, but not enough to dock a star. this will definitely appeal to kids who like adventure, mystery, fantasy, and dystopia, so a variety of tastes. ;)

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