This was a book my husband picked up for me at the store and I am glad he did. He handed it to me saying, "This seems like your type of book". He was right.
The Clockwork Three is the story of three down-and-out, scrappy youngsters each striving for their own goal: For apprentice clockmaker Frederick, it's to become a journeyman to the clockmakers guild, for young maid Hannah, it's to take care of her poverty stricken family and for street musician Guissepe, it's to get back home to Italy.
I really enjoyed the use of three different point of views for each chapter depending on which of the kids chapter it was. I am a fan of this style and Kirby did a good job with getting us in these kids head. Another thing I enjoyed was that while the overall end may be a tad predictable and possibly contrived (though I would argue that the clockwork motif makes these coincidences work perfectly), the journey there is not predictable and there are plenty of twists and turns I did not see coming. I also liked that the author did not try to sugarcoat some of the harsher aspects of this time in history, but he did so still respectful of his young readers but without dumbing it down, and also without being too graphic. Issues on theft, violence, rights and such are tackled very well. I liked the characters, the writing and the overall story.
However, I do have a few, brief criticisms. For one, I felt like Hannah was one of the weaker characters in the story. Towards the end, I feel she was glossed over a bit in favor of Guissepe and Frederick. I am not sure if this is because the author has an easier time getting into the heads of male characters or not, but toward the end I feel like she was not as present and we never get to see her heading home (SPOILER ALERT!) to find the police there or her going to Mrs. Pomeroy. Futhermore, I really was interested in Mrs. Pomeroy and her story, but that never gets resolved and it frustrates the heck out of me. What was the deal with her and Yavok and this enemy? What was the initial ship wreckage about? What was this green violin and the piece of golem? There seemed there was so much more to the story and I really wanted to know about it. I felt teased by it the whole time only to get to the end and get no answers. Is this supposed to be a series? If not, then I really wish Kirby had let us in on these mysteries that he dangled in front of us the whole time. My other (albeit petty) complaint is that I really was expecting more steampunk and clockwork in the story. With a title like "The Clockwork Three", I was expecting steampunk to play a major part of the theme whereas it ended up only being a very small aspect, mainly with Frederick. But even then it was quite mild. Now, the "Clokwork" may have been an allusion to the fact that the three kids' fates were intertwined and I get that, but it certainly seems to have been marketed to have much more steampunk appeal than is actually present in the story itself. Some other critiques I had is that Hannah's sisters were never named, another aspect that made me feel that Hannah's story seemed more glassed over than the others. Also, poor Pietro was left behind! I felt a little upset that everyone got what they wanted but him. The poor kid was kidnapped and from Italy as well - why couldn't he have gone with Giuseppe at the end?
Overall though, it was a good read. I enjoyed it and would reccomend it to young adults as well as any adults who enjoy Victoriana and/or steampunk aesthetics.