Most novels I read are straight forward, A leads to B leads to C and here’s the conclusion so it’s refreshing to read something that follows a different format. As strong as the plot of Mechanique is, and it is, the style of the book is what keeps you reading.
Chronological time doesn’t exist, as such. In fact, time altogether doesn’t seem to exist. At first I assumed this was a European post-WWII novel but there is no real sense of when. If we accept the steam-punkness, we could set it in the future. Although, one of the character’s seems to belong to the late 1800, early 1900s (she was in the opera). Of course, the novel could span hundreds of years (seriously, the sense of time is so in flux and yet it feels current too).
The characters themselves make up the plot. Seamlessly switching from first to third, even to second (and a well done second) person perspective, we see a bit of everyone. But I couldn’t really tell you what the characters looked like under their stage makeup and grease paint. I can tell you what the wings look like, and Ayar’s ribs, and Jonah’s clockwork lungs, but physical traits are few and far between. But also not necessary.
Basically, Mechanique stears clear of regular fiction rules and makes it’s own resulting in a tumultuous, harrowing, circus of a novel that keeps you entranced to the very end.
“It’s always more exciting to watch something you know could backfire.” (page 22)