It's International Steampunk Day

In honor of International Steampunk Day, here are some great YA novels for adventure-loving young steampunkers.

I recently finished The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade. In Victorian London,
a patronizing scientist raises the hunchback child named Modo, who can change his appearance. Doctor Socrates teaches him to channel his shape-shifting, and use it to become a super-spy. Throw in an evil Clockwork Guild, a secretive Permanent Association, and, of course, an evil scientist named Dr. Hyde and a lethal part-metal woman who are bent on ruling the world.

Oh, we mustn't forget the Victorian street urchins: Modo's friend Oppie, a boy who becomes the key to the plot, and Octavia Milkweed, a girl (with a heart of gold, of course) who has also been trained by Doctor Socrates to impersonate a mopsy or a fine young lady of means, or anyone in between. Working together, Modo and Octavia investigate missing street children and the missing Prince Regent, uncovering a vast plot and many evil experiments and inventions. Through it all, Modo hides his true self from Ocatavia as well as the rest of the world.

Thank goodness the sequel is due in September 2010!

One of the first Kindle books I read was Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld. Set a little later than the usual steampunk, starting with the assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his family, it sets up an alternate World War I. At the heart of it all is Alek, the crown prince of Austria, who becomes the pawn fought over by the clockwork-style Clanker powers of Germany and the gene-splicing Darwinists of Great Brittain.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Deryn Sharp is training as an airship operator. Deryn's big secret? She's a girl, but before anyone finds out, she has become part of the crew of the Leviathan, a biological ecosystem that functions as a zeppelin. You just know the two teens are going to meet and have heart-stopping adventures, as they become allies. They are both hiding their true identities from the world: notice a theme?

These titles reminded me of two other series I've read over the past few years: Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series, and Eleanor Updale's Montmorency series. I recommend them all for steampunk YAs.

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