Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cogitate Beneath the Surface: Steampunk Week

Note from Darcy:  In our department, each of the four of us take turns planning our weekly summer reading themes and activities. Since my colleagues have expertise in the books related to each week's theme, they have graciously agreed to write the corresponding weekly blog posts for our summer reading program. This week, my friend Rachael wrote the following entry.

“Steampunk” has been a rising trend among teens for several years now. It began in books and spread to other art forms such as music, art and crafting. The steampunk genre is often focused on the Victorian era or a post-apocalyptic society where modern technology is not as available. Steampunk is the concept of a steam powered mechanism made of gears, cogs, metal and, occasionally, clockwork, that can function on a sophisticated level. There are many recent books that focus on this trend, but the idea is much older than many people realize.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells—Published in 1895, a man known only as the “Time Traveller” tells stories of strange travels he has undertaken in a mechanism that took him to the future. The story focuses on his time among people called Eloi who seem to live in a perfect society. However, as night descends, he learns that there are many dark secrets and life is dangerous among the people he has befriended. The Time Traveller loses his machine and must face the dark secrets of the future in order to return to his time.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a steampunk take on the old fairytale Cinderella. Set in a futuristic society, Cinder is a mechanic in new Beijing.  She is composed of both human and mechanical body parts and is labeled a cyborg, a lesser member of society. She has no memory of her life before the age of eleven. Cinder is a talented mechanic who supports her stepmother and two stepsisters with her trade. When her stepsister contracts a deadly plague, Cinder is submitted for testing and finds that her lost past could save the political unrest in her country and a possible chance to save her stepsister. If you enjoy this book, the next book in this series, the Lunar Chronicles, is Scarlet, a steampunk take on Little Red Riding Hood, also by Marissa Meyer.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is the first book in the Infernal Devices trilogy. Set in the Victorian era, it details the adventures of Tessa Gray who travels to London to live with her brother. Upon her arrival, she is tricked by the Dark Sisters who hold her hostage and train her to take on the appearance of others by holding something that belongs to them. Her brother eventually rescues her, but not before Tessa is plunged into a dark world of vampires, clockwork armies and the war between good and evil in the London shadows. The trilogy continues with Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess, also by Cassandra Clare.

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, follows the story of Finley Jane. Finley Jane is a servant who must flee after she knocks out a young lord who tries to take advantage of her. She is taken in by an orphaned lord, Griffin King, and joins his band of misfits. She fits in well until the Machinist, a dangerous criminal, threatens to tear the group apart. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar and The Girl with the Iron Touch are the next novels in the Steampunk Series by Kady Cross.

As well as being a fictional genre, steampunk is also expressed through creative crafts. In the teen room this week, teens created steampunk top hats with duct tape and charms as one of the summer reading crafts. There are also non-fiction books available at the library that describe the steampunk style and give examples of simple crafts. The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer, call number YA 809.3, provides many photos with instructions of steampunk crafts. Steampunk Accessories: 20 projects to help you nail the style by Nicola Tedman, call number YA 745.5, also provides many creative suggestion for “steampunking” modern accessories.

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