Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti is a beautiful book about a circus where to be a real performer you become more machine than human. The aerialists have their bones replaced with hollow copper so they are lighter. The music man is a head and hands built into an organ. There’s a strongman with a mechanical spine, his partner with clockwork lungs, the human trapezes and there was once a man with wings.
There’s all sorts of yearning in this book. Little George (as opposed to Big George, who is one of the human trapezes) is the barker and the character we’re closest to in the book. He wants to be a tumbler but Boss won’t do the surgeries on him yet. There are two acrobats who perform together beautifully in silence and desperate competition to be the next person to wear the wings.
We see a world that’s been struggling through a terrible war that’s ravaged cities far longer than most people have been alive. And we meet a government man who wants to push things forward, make things better for the people, and for that he just might need these people of the circus.
The book has something like 80 short chapters and they flicker around in time. There is a plot-line, a very simple one about the government man, but most of the book is spent learning about the different characters and their histories. We read the origin stories of how these people joined the circus and the nameless crew, and the aside from the plot the central question is about Alec, the man who had wings but fell. And died.
This is a book to read for its language because Genevieve Valentine’s language is beautiful. It’s fragmented and broken as the characters, but rebuilt into something magnificent.
One of my favorite books of all time. The way I explain it to people is "the book starts off seeming like it's about a steampunk cyborg circus touring the post-apocalypse, and then it gets weird"
I love the narrative structure and rhythm of this book. It's poetic and evocative and haunting and I could gush for hours about it.
This book was tremendous. The author managed both a non-linear timeline and the slow reveal of information wonderfully, and with prose that was beautiful throughout. She plays with the tropes of steampunk and apocalyptica but ends up creating something that feels very new.
I read on Goodreads that alot of people were put off by the switching of viewpoints in this book - what a shame. Each chapter is told by a different character. But in doing this, the author has reinforced the sort of organization of a machine (like her circus). And honestly, isn't this how we get to the bottom of things in real life? Great book - didn't leave me with a deep thought or something to ponder, but the way it's put together sort of reinforces the idea that everything is linked. Pretty neat!
Totally bizarre, but cool. This was wildly different from most things I read and I dug it. Casual violence, bizarre characters. Cool.
Wow! I never expected this book to be so...engaging...so filled with incredible scenes and characters. Very unique. Usually, books that change perspective in every short chapter don't work...but this never becomes confusing or feels like artifice. I'm glad that the author never attempted to explain away the mechanics of the transformation and resurrection of the characters. I enjoyed this tremendously, and I hope there is no sequel. This is great just the way it is.
It’s Something Wicked This Way Comes meets The Hunger Games with a bunch of Frankenstein thrown in. An enjoyable read. The author’s use of words is hypnotizing.
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