Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Posted December 17, 2014 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: Ticker by Lisa MantchevTicker by Lisa Mantchev
Published by Skyscape on 2014-12-01
Length: 276 pages
Reviewing Kindle from Amazon

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

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

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

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

Ticker had so much promise. Just look at that gorgeous cover and the synopsis?! Hello, it screamed to me “PICK ME! READ ME! YOU’LL LOVE ME!” Well, books don’t actually talk, except in my head so I guess technically it didn’t lie to me….

But…but I really just didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would. I went in with my expectations too high. Does that mean I hated it? No, but it could have been so much better.

First, the MC was a let down.

I really didn’t like our main character Penny Farthing, like at all! She’s a bit heartless (pun intended) at times. Here’s this girl who has a clockwork heart, she’s basically beaten and survived against all odds yet she doesn’t seem to appreciate it. In fact, I feel like it is totally wasted on her. She lives her life in that whole “carpe diem” style. I don’t fault her that, however she takes risks that no sane person would take, let alone a person with failing health! She has a bit of survivor’s guilt going on too. The genetic defect only affects the girls of the family, can strike at any time and usually it kills you. Penny lives, her two other sisters are dead, leaving her family in a broken, mourning type state. Penny seems to think she would’ve been better off dead too.

Nic, her twin brother, will do anything, and I do mean ANYTHING to save his sister. He’s a bit on the crazy over-protective side and drives her insane. I feel sorry for him because he doesn’t understand why Penny can’t just act like a normal girl, or at the very least not be a daredevil.

Then there’s Marcus, the love interest and head of the private army. He’s smart and has this brooding sensitivity thing down pat. His character is very at odds with his profession. Don’t get me wrong he makes a good general, but it’s not him. He’s a thinker.

And then they all ran in circles.


In the first 5-10% of the book, the Farthing’s company explodes, the parents are kidnapped, Warwick (the bad guy) escapes from prison, and Nic and Penny receive a ransom letter demanding all their parents’ Augmentation (this is what they called people with clockwork upgrades on their person) research. Penny doesn’t know who is behind it all and decides to trust no one. However this blows up in her face pretty quickly as she is a girl with a clockwork heart that is on the fritz.

Basically all I can tell you without any spoilers is this: Warwick is a crazy lunatic with good intentions gone awry. All he wants is to fix Penny’s heart, no matter the cost. I didn’t understand his motivation and it isn’t revealed until nearly the end of the book so I won’t say it here. Although I will say that I think it would’ve contributed to the story and actually led to me connecting to the characters if it would’ve been given sooner, like at the beginning. It really wouldn’t have ruined the story or taken away from the crazy plot.

I had a really hard time connecting with the characters and determining where the book was going due to all the technical jargon and world-building that is thrown in. Personally I like a bit of slow immersion into a world where things are explained as you are introduced to them. If you don’t need to know what it is leave it out. However in this book, the first several chapters are inundated with (made-up, at least I’m pretty sure they were) words that I can’t pronounce about things I could only dream of. Yes it adds to the dystopian society Penny lives in but it also distracted me from the overall story.

But the ending was epic!

The final showdown in this book saved it for me. Honestly I was ready to sit this book down at around 40% but I decided to push through it and by 75% I’m glad I did. The story started coming together better for me. The characters were making sense. I even began to connect with Penny on some level.

Overall, the writing and world-building were excellent. I may have struggled a bit in the beginning, but the author and characters won me over in the end. If you enjoy young adult, steampunk, science fiction, give this book a go.

About Lisa Mantchev

When not scribbling, Lisa Mantchev can be found on the beach, up a tree, making jam,or repairing things with her trusty glue gun. Her short fiction has appeared in venues like Clarkesworld, Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine and Strange Horizons. Her YA fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata, was published by Feiwel & Friends and includes the Mythopoeic and Andre Norton Award-nominated EYES LIKE STARS, PERCHANCE TO DREAM and SO SILVER BRIGHT.


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