Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: House Immortal by Devon Monk

House Immortal
(House Immortal #1)
Devon Monk
Release: Sept. 2, 2014
Links Goodreads Amazon
Summary: One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized....

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.

Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity

The secrets that Tilly must fight to protect are hidden within the very seams of her being. And to get the secrets, her enemies are willing to tear her apart piece by piece.…

Review: Last year I saw an early description of House Immortal that said, "Frankenstein meets Firefly" and I was sold. It's also got a little bit of The Hunger Games and a lot of unique and fascinating world building.
The way I saw it, a girl needed three things to start the day right: a hot cup of tea, a sturdy pair of boots, and for the feral beast to die the first time she stabbed it in the brain.
Matilda Case lives on a farm off the grid and unnoticed by most of civilization. She cares for her grandmother, and some very unusual farm animals that her father created, with the help of her friend and farmhand Ned, who happens to have two heads. (Both are named Ned, but the left one is a lot crankier.) Tilly, like those animals, is "stitched," made up of parts and held together with a special thread. She's been told to hide her nature all her life, but the reasons didn't really sink in until she met Abraham and learned of the Houses' plans for her.

Tilly doesn't trust anything associated with Houses, including Abraham, since she watched them kill her parents years ago. But her brother, a scientist like their father, is missing and entering their world may be the only way to find him. She also has to make sure her father's creations and the rebel communications hub and on her property stay hidden.

One of the things I thought was really interesting about this world is that it's not clear if the stitched exist because of magic or science or some combination of the two. Tilly explains the animals' ability to survive on the farm by saying there are nanos in the soil, a sort of nuclear fallout from the disaster that created the galvanized. But some of her father's creations, like the thread that holds her together, sound a lot like magic. There are clues about the original experiment that led to that disaster, but no one knows the details.  And everyone - Tilly's brother, the Houses, the galvanized themselves - are looking for the answers. I'm really interested to learn more about that as the series progresses.

I thought it was odd that Tilly knew how she was created, but didn't realize she was galvanized. But then, she's not exactly like the others. Tilly can feel, and when she touches Abraham he can too, for the first time in centuries. I wonder if that's the reason he's almost instantly attracted to her, or if she just reminds him of a time before the Houses controlled the galvanized. The two have a connection from the very beginning, but it's not really a romance. There just isn't enough time for that with everything else going on in their lives. That's another element that I'm curious about how it plays out in the next book.

I loved Abraham and (most of) the galvanized. They're a great example of a trope I've been seeing a lot lately -- the "monsters" are better people than the humans. (Another series that does this really well is Anne Bishop's The Others.) They're also soldiers who sacrifice for the greater good, despite society's unfair treatment. The galvanized all become pawns in a battle between the Houses, with everyone wanting to use Tilly to gain the advantage.

Once we enter that world of politics and intrigue, House Immortal is action-packed and full of surprises. The last quarter of this book went by so fast I was shocked when I got to the end. It's kind of an out of the frying pan and into the fire ending, so I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series. Infinity Bell releases in March.

Recommended for fans of:  dystopian worlds; hunky immortal heroes; strong, yet na├»ve heroines

4 1/2  stars

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