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I’m going to start off honestly: When I saw this book pop up on Netgalley, I was really intrigued and immediately requested it. Then I saw it was by Lisa Mantchev, an author who has disappointed me in the past. Last year, I read Ticker, which had a good premise but was really terribly written. I was nervous about starting this one in case the same thing happened, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. For the most part.

Here are the basics –

Vee is the lead singer of the Sugar Skulls, one of the bands promoted by Corporate. They tour around Cyrene, playing shows to generate the energy that powers the city. Energy is currency in Cyrene. The more of it you can generate, the happier Corporate will be. Vee is especially talented at generating energy. Her songs draw people in, to the point that she’s even been known to overload the thrum collectors.

Micah lives under the radar, running errands for the owner of a popular club. He overdosed on a powerful, illegal drug months ago, which kicked him off the grid. He sees Vee perform one night, and finds himself absolutely entranced with her. He obsesses over her for days, drags himself all over the city looking for her, and somehow this didn’t even bother me.

Vee and Micah are an indisputable case of instalove. Their eyes meet across the room. They fixate on each other. Without even knowing anything about each other, they have this connection that they just need to explore. And it’s okay. I can deal with it.

Suddenly, the story splinters off into a weird tirade against drug use. Of course I was rooting for Micah and Vee and hoping they would destroy the big bad evil drug dealer, but it didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story. We go from fun nights at the club to helpless girls pumped full of drugs and it’s just weird.

So, overall, this book is good. The story definitely drew me in, but it had some hiccups in the plot that pulled me out, and it took some time to re-submerge myself in this world.

I’m teetering between three and four stars, but I think I have to be fair to my other four-star reads here and go with three.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

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 is currently free on Amazon for those with a Prime membership!