Book Review: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin [Audiobook]

 
 
Nell lives in a small post-apocalyptic city in a future where computers are banned and people are born with missing body parts, which her father, the brilliant Dr. Crane, replaces with biomechanic limbs. Nell needs to think of a contribution to society that will live up to her parents', and when she finds a mannequin hand, she has the perfect idea---artificial life.

Book Cover - Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Title: Spare and Found Parts
Publisher:
Pages: 416
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

I have very mixed feelings about this book. It’s something I might recommend to others if they were interested, but, at the same time, I couldn’t really get into it.

Plot: The plot was kind of unpredictable, which I like. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t know what I wanted to happen. That was cool. But in the end, it kind of disappointed me. There was some growth, it seemed like things were teased at, then it seemed like there was kind of backwards growth, then I’m not really sure. It was also a slow story, and I found myself losing interest. But it was slow in a way that gave it an almost unsettling, otherworldly feel, so props to the author for evoking that feeling.

Romance: Maybe it’s just me, but the description made me think this would be more of a romance. It’s really not, which was fine for me, but might disappoint some people.

Believability: I had some believability issues with the android stuff. *SPOILER* Nell basically just connected some artificial limbs and wires to a special AI computer chip her father just happened to have, and voila! And somehow this android could feel not only his own emotions (which, hello, why did no one acknowledge the whole AI-feeling-emotions thing?) but also emotions that were imprinted on all the limbs he was created with. *END SPOILER*

Retelling: What I did like about the story was that it seemed to be a Frankenstein retelling, with the way the MC wanted to create life (in this case, an android), the way she became kind of obsessed with it, even the incorporation of lightning.

Characters: I never really understood Nell, or her obsession with creating artificial life, or why she pushed everyone away the way she did. I didn’t find her very likeable or interesting, and characters generally need to be at least one of those two things for my enjoyment. I found myself far more interested in side characters. I wanted to know more about Julian with his secrets, and his mysteries, and his brilliance, and his grief. *SPOILER* (Or maybe not brilliance and grief, maybe just madness and an obsessive desire for power and prestige, but that still would’ve been interesting.) *END SPOILER* I also wanted to know more about Oliver with his connections, and his ambitions, and his unrequited love.

World: I never fully understood the world. I didn’t understand the epidemic (or whatever it was), what it had to do with computers, and why it caused people to be missing pieces of their bodies. I didn’t understand this new post-apoc/dystopian place these people had set up and why some lived in the Pasture and some lived in the Pale.

Inclusivity: It was nice to find that the world this book was set in was LGBT+ inclusive. I think the MC might have been bi/pan (it was never directly stated, but there were times when she would think things like, “I’ve never courted a boy, or a girl for that matter,” or wonder if she was flirting or fighting with the pretty barmaid). There was also casual mention of LGBT+ background characters.

Writing: I didn’t have anything against the writing itself, it might’ve been pretty at times (it’s hard to me to tell when listening to audio), but I didn’t love all the POV choices. The book was mostly in 3rd person limited from Nell’s POV, but there were a few short chapters in 2nd person from Nell’s POV, and a few in 1st person from Io’s POV talking to “you” (Nell).

Audiobook Narration: I enjoyed listening to Alana Kerr Collins and her Irish accent, but all the voices sounded the same, which could be a little confusing. I also didn’t see the point in having dual narration, considering the second narrator (Alan Smyth) didn’t come in until 6 hours into the 9-hour book and hardly had any chapters.

I feel like there’s a lot of negativity in this review, but I didn’t hate the book. I liked some things, disliked others, but overall just wasn’t that invested or into it. It wasn’t quite for me, but I think some people will love it. It does have an unpredictable and surprising, maybe even thought-provoking, story.

 
 

Book Blurb

Nell Crane has never held a boy’s hand.

In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—Nell has always been an outsider. Her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs that everyone now uses. But she’s the only one with her machinery on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. And as her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary ideas when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a lost mannequin’s hand while salvaging on the beach, and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Sarah Maria Griffin’s haunting literary debut will entrance fans of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

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18 thoughts on “Book Review: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin [Audiobook]

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  1. Roberta R.

    As far as retellings go, this one sounds pretty like its own thing…but I hear you, it’s hard to get invested in a story if the main character doesn’t evoke a strong feeling. Also, I find it hard to believe that computers would be banned one day – more like they would own us LOL.

    Very balanced and thoughtful review though!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I can’t remember now if there was something about computers did kind of take over and do something bad or something like that, and that’s why they banned them.. I can’t even remember if it was fully explained. Anyway, this was it’s own story, kind of a loose retelling, so it did have some uniqueness going for it.

    1. Kristen Burns

      You definitely don’t have to read Frankenstein to enjoy this! It’s a story all on its own. Though Frankenstein is a thought-provoking book, I wouldn’t try and dissuade you if you wanted to :-P

  2. Greg

    Aww that’s a bummer. I do love the artificial life idea- that always at least gets my attention.

    the lightning’s a nice touch. :)

    And the inclusivity and unpredictability of it sounds like positives. Sorry it didn’t work entirely for you… sometimes a book is fine but just not the right fit. I seem to be having that lately too…

    1. Kristen Burns

      Artificial life is always an interesting topic to explore. But yeah, there are definitely times when a book is fine but just not for you, so maybe this was one of those times.

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I’ve had this one on my Kindle forever because the premise really interested me so I’m sorry to see the issues you had with it. Some of them may be different for me as I’ll be reading it rather than listening to the audio so maybe that will work in my forever. It is frustrating to see the world building isn’t better, though, and you were left confused about why certain things were happening. I think I’ll still give it a chance, it is an interesting concept but I will be prepared to not be totally blown away.

  4. Olivia Roach

    I had some interest in this book but I think I am actually going to pass on it now. It seems like a decent retelling but I did expect more romance. And I am so done with books in general, that have very poor world building or just not enough explanations of anything. So I just don’t think we would be compatible. Thanks for your eye opening review x

    1. Kristen Burns

      Funny enough, I think you are the reason I listened to this one? Or at least, it was already on my radar, but I bumped it up when I saw you mention to someone that it wsa a Frankenstein retelling, since I do love those lol. But the world building was definitely lacking for me, and it does seem this might not be one for you.