Review: Engn by Simon Kewin

Finn has been raised to fear the notorious Ironclads and their city, Engn. The Ironclads are sent out to the surrounding villages to recruit children to work in the city.

When the Ironclads come, there is no choice but to send the children to Engn even though few return to their homes, parents are required to let the Ironclads take what they want.

When Finn was younger, his sister was taken to Engn which was supposed to mean that Finn was safe as the Ironclads can only take one child per family. But when the Ironclads come for him, this changes everything.

With Finn on his way to Engn and almost certain death, he is reminded of a promise he made long ago–Finn and his friend Conner vowed to destroy Engn for good.

But Finn soon discovers that task is larger than originally thought.  In Engn, a dictatorship runs the city and the people/workers are slaves…broken and beaten to an inch of their lives and once they are no longer useful, they are terminated.

There are spies everywhere and soon Finn finds himself wondering if it’s even possible to destroy this mighty empire. Though Conner and Finn made a pack to take down the empire, but Finn soon begins to wonder if Conner has been taken over by the machine?

When I received this novel for review, I was expecting it to be more of a YA level read, but it seemed a little more of a middle grade (MG) book. It had YA elements but it just seemed to be written for a younger audience. That made this book a little hard for me to review based on that.

My expectation was that it would be written for an older audience, so when I started reading the flow was not quite there for me in the way I had hoped. I don’t really review a lot of MG books, basically because as an adult reader sometimes I struggle with the content and I read too much into what’s happening.

For example, in this book I wanted to know more about Engn and why it was created, what it’s purpose was etc. I never really had those questions answered to my satisfaction.

So for me as an adult reader I felt like it was a flimsy conclusion that left too much open and unanswered, but for a MG reader it might be sufficient. It’s hard for me to differentiate if it’s my age or the content of the book if that makes sense.

The beginning of the book started with a lot of past regression and back story. The intro had a lot of action with Finn being captured by the Ironclads, I was really excited to keep reading but then all of a sudden the story hit the breaks and it went right into the past and back story.

I would have liked to have seen the author continue with the momentum of the intro a little longer before transitioning into the back story.

I was really intrigued by Engn. I thought there was a lot of potential there for the story to develop and perhaps have it turn into a series. The idea was unique, complex, and exciting. The city Engn has a lot of aspects to keep readers of all ages engaged and wanting to know more. So with that, the author did well.

I loved the steampunk/industrial components as well as the sci-fi and dystopian feel of the book.  Clearly Kewin loves the genre and does a fantastic job bringing those devices to life!

I found the overall pace of the novel too slow for my taste, I thought that MG readers especially might struggle with the pace, as well as the length of the book. It felt longer because of the pace but it was lengthy for a MG book, even if you don’t factor in the pace.

Finn was a solid hero of the book. He was admirable, self sacrificing, brave, and honorable…everything a well written hero should be in children’s literature so kudos for making him so likable! I think all readers will be able to enjoy his character and his quest.

Overall, I thought this book had a lot of potential but at the end of the day, it fell short for me. I felt like the pace was just too wanting and not enough of my questions were answered by the end of the book. Perhaps for the right reader this book will be better but for me, it was just ok.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Engn by Simon Kewin

  • ebook, 320 pages
  • Published July 15th 2013 by December House
  • ISBN13 9781909375147
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: YA, middle grade, steampunk, industrial lit, dystopian lit, urban fantasy, speculative fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: 

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