The League of Seven

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The League of Seven,
Book 1 of a Trilogy

Alan Gratz
Illustrated by Brett Helquist (of Lemony Snickett books fame)
A Starscape Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2014

This story takes place in the past but it seems like the future. It has a real steampunk-science fiction feel.  In this alternative past/future, First Americans live peacefully alongside the “Yanks.” There is no electricity; steam runs everything. The boats in New Rome (New York) harbor are actually submarines because the ocean is too rough to sail on top. The most common mode of transport other than trains are steam powered airships or dirigibles. And, ever since the “Darkness had fallen over the Old World” the moon glows blood red.

Apparently in the Old World electricity had covered the world and it had woken the immortal Mangleborn, monsters from before Time began and they almost destroyed the world. After the Mangleborn where captured and put into prisons deep beneath the earth, the world went back to steam-based energy and “lektricity” was forbidden. The League of Seven were, and are, a special group of people (from among the Septemberists) in charge of keeping lektricity out of common use and the Mangleborn in captivity.

MAIN CHARACTERS:
*Archie Dent  – 12 year old son of 2 Septemberists (people who keep an eye out for the rise of Mangleborn and who pass the knowledge from generation to generation because all humans forget where they came from and have to relearn the same lesson over and over again) and who dreams of being in the League of Seven as a ‘hero’
*Mr. Rivets – a Tik Tok clockwork machine-man, who acts as a chaperone for the kids
*Fergus – teen-aged boy,  Scottish, a brilliant tinkerer and human “Archimedes Machine” (if you don’t know what that it, Google it!)
*Hachi – young girl of the Seminole Tribe who is a true warrior

SECONDARY CHARACTERS:
*Thomas Alva Edison – evil doer who is trying to raise one of the Mangleborn with lecktricity.
*Mr. Shinobi – evil Tik Tok steam-powered machine-man who is after Fergus; he serves Edison
*Swarm Queen aka, Malacar Ahasherat – a Mangleborn who has dominion over bugs; she has these icky bugs crawl up and latch themselves onto people’s necks, driving their tails into the spinal cord so she can control them

So, I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was fairly original (at least to me) in a lot of ways but also reminiscent of the other ‘kids-who-triumph-over-evil-without-their-parents’ books (is there a special genre for this topic?) I’ve read. I really liked the steampunk aspect of the whole story, with its dirigibles, steam horses, and tik tok creatures – plus ray guns and wave cannons! I’m getting ready to start the next book in the series!

The book is well written and well paced; I didn’t lose interest at all through the whole book; it isn’t so complicated that I forgot what was what when I put it down for a couple of days. The twist about Archie at the very end was a total surprise even if the author laid down breadcrumbs through the whole book.

We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge – Bonus Book!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for imaginatively fun adventure – and Hachi’s Circus (you’ll have to read the book to find out what (who?) her circus is)!

gorgeous tobyReviewer: Toby

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