Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Book Review Club - Spare and Found Parts

Spare and Found Parts
Sarah Maria Griffin
YA - Horror

I cannot watch scary movies. Can't do it. I went to Nightmare on Elm Street for my 16th birthday. It was the first and last scary movie I saw in a theater. I still have nightmares. Which is why I love the literary horror genre so much. It's limited by the reaches of my imagination, which is scared (and satisfied) with a lot less fright than your apparent horror movie buff. I'm such a wimp. Still, I have found my horror outlet. Yay!

Add to that that Spare and Found Parts is a retelling of Frankenstein (I own the annotated version because what is horror without proper annotation, I ask you?) set in a future Ireland. Irish horror? I'm hooked already.

Basic premise: Society was brought down by the almighty machine, i.e. computers, and is now in a post-computer (read: computerless) age. Humankind has suffered a pandemic that killed millions. Still, people are born without certain body parts. Enter Nell Crane. She became sick with the pandemic as a child and needed a new heart. Her father, renowned prosthetics maker, Julian Crane, fashions one out of metal for her. It ticks (there are overtures of The Wizard of Oz here too). The ticking makes Nell feel separate from others, not like them, so as her contribution--her buy in into society as a grown up--she decides to fashion a partner completely out of metal, a "new/old" android. The only thing missing is a brain, which her father ultimately supplies in the form of a contraband computer memory slip. Thus, Nell awakens her own monster, one to parallel her feelings of monstrosity. Will they fall in love? Can they? Will Nell's contribution be accepted or cause her to be ostracized from society? One must read to find out!

There is a lot more going on in the story, of course--an unrequited love interest toward Nell on the part of the local undertaker's son, Oliver, his secret claims to her, Julian's attempts to reanimate his dead wife, hidden computer archives, a best friend, an enormous statue fashioned by Nell's late mother that is a surrogate sister to Nell, and a grandmother who is a naturalist  and thus adamantly opposed to Nell's artificial life/monster--that add to the richness of this story.

There is one craft issue that has me puzzling. Griffin tells the story in omniscient third; however, she will, from time to time, in a separate chapter, use second person to hone in on Nell, but also step back from her. Nell is the focus of the soliloquy. It was unclear to me if the speaker is Nell reflecting on herself or an unknown narrator. Nor am I entirely sure what the change in POV is supposed to elicit. It does pause the storytelling and force the reader and Nell to focus more particularly on a particular event and/or moment in time. I don't dislike it. It isn't jarring. I just haven't quite puzzled out how I can take and make my own as a writer because I haven't discovered what it does for the piece for me. Again, always the sign of good writing for me--it makes me think.

For more good reads and things that go bump in the night, sneak over to Barrie Summy's website. There's no telling what stories (dead or alive) lurk there. Bwahahahahaha!!!!

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Barrie said...

Wow! What a fantastic premise! Personally, I'm usually thrown off by 2nd person. So, I'm curious to hear what you come up re this technique. Like you, I can read horror, but very, very, very rarely watch. In fact, I walked out of the last horror movie I went to see. Just too intense. Thanks for reviewing, Stacy!

Linda McLaughlin said...

What an interesting book. Like you, I'm not into horror movies, and I almost never read it either, but this sounds good, although I'm also leery of second person. I mean, why? It makes no sense to me.

Sarah Laurence said...

I can't watch horror movies either! I still have nightmares about Wait Until Dark, which I saw at 12. Do not see Black Swan! I find horror somewhat easier to read, but it's still not my favorite genre. The premise of this retelling sounds so original, although the narrative structure would bug me. I love the deep analysis of your reviews!