Synopses & Reviews
For Phoebe Plumm, life in Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome servant Micah Tanner and waiting for her renowned father, Dr. Jules Plumm, to return home. Chief surveyor for the Foundry, a global corporation with control of metal production and technology, Phoebe's father is in the field for months at a time. But when a sudden and unexpected reunion leads to father and daughter's being abducted, Phoebe and would-be hero Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning and volatile alien world-one that has been ruthlessly plundered by the Foundry for centuries and is the secret source of every comfort and innovation the two refugees have ever known.
Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz have fashioned an intensely inventive, engaging, and thought-provoking tale of two worlds on a collision course and the two young rivals who find themselves on the front line. The Foundry's Edge is the first book in a trilogy that will transport young readers down a mechanical rabbit hole and send them on an adventure that explores the hidden costs of indulgence, the perils of unchallenged nationalism, and the world-altering power of compassion and conviction.
Baity and Zelkowicz, animators and artistic collaborators whose credits include work on such shows as Robot Chicken and Moral Orel, make their fiction debut with this richly imagined fantasy, first in a trilogy. Twelve-year-old Phoebe Plumm lives in the lap of luxury, in a world filled with amazing technological advances, whose secrets are jealously guarded by the Foundry. When Foundry agents kidnap Phoebe's father, she and the Plumm Estate "grease monkey," annoying 10-year-old Micah, follow. Plunged into a world of living metal and machinery, the two encounter numerous dangers, as well as a mechanical companion, the erratic Dollop. Baity and Zelkowicz have created a memorable setting that owes less to steampunk than an atmosphere of retro-futurism, and the authors' prose is stuffed with lavish descriptions ("The brasslands stretched as far as the eye could see, a golden ocean roiling in the breeze, crashing up against corkscrew spires"). The plot drags at times as the heroes slog from one situation to the next, and some twists are quite obvious, but it's still a solid start to the series, filled with storytelling potential. Ages: 8 12.--PW
The Foundry, a metal-forging behemoth, controls the world's supply of trinkets, fashion, construction materials, vehicles, and, of course, weapons. Phoebe's father is one of its most powerful players, and when he's kidnapped by mysterious bespectacled animatrons, she and her nemesis turned friend, Micah, follow him into the depths of Mekh, a hidden world full of living metal. As Phoebe and Micah search the strange metallic environment, they realize that the Foundry hasn't invented anything; it has merely plundered Mekh for its resources and enslaved its population. With a few new metal friends, the teens seek out Phoebe's father, and she struggles to accept the part he has played in Mekh's destruction. Baity and Zelkowicz put their experience as animators to work, describing the alien metal world and its mindbendingly outlandish denizens with such an eye for visual detail that they clatter to life on the page. The imaginative world, whirlwind adventure, tense emotional stakes, and some well-placed laughs put this first in a planned series in the same stack as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. - Sarah Hunter--Booklist
Phoebe enjoys her privilege, even taunting Micah, the servant's son, about their different states; nonetheless, she misses her father when he travels for business, and even she would have to admit that her life has more comfort than meaning. A daring rescue attempt at saving her father after he is kidnapped leads to Phoebe's finding horrors and depths behind the extravagant life she lives. She discovers that nearby Mehk is a place essentially pillaged for the gadgets, tools, and mechanics used in Phoebe's life, and she and Micah, who travels with her, see that the world seems to be ravaged by people, damaged and polluted and threatened in ways that feel cruel, even while they acknowledge the potential benefit of the materials taken from there for humans. The animation background of both of the authors is apparent: readers may imagine how cool the world of Mehk would be in movie format, based on the lush, extravagant descriptions of the dying but still beautiful metal world. Less smooth is the shift of the protagonist from utterly loathsome to scrappy heroine in such a short amount of time that it stretches plausibility, as do the sudden dramatic shifts in other characters that squander carefully written personalities for plot-convenient transformations. Even so, there is potential in this anticipated trilogy, particularly for plot-driven readers who like machines and imagined worlds all mixed together. AS--BCCB
4Q 4P J S Phoebe Plumm has all the luxuries in the world, but she is not a happy person. Her mother drowned while saving Phoebe from a riptide, and she rarely sees her father, who is engaged in "Very Important Work" for the Foundry, a corporation that controls worldwide metal production and technology. Her privileged life ends when she, servant Micah, and her father are kidnapped. Phoebe has always treated Micah with contempt, and it galls her that she must now depend on someone younger than her for help. A mechanical human (mekhie) named Dollop offers to guide them to the capital to rescue her father. As they trek through one life-threatening experience after another, the trio discovers the shattering truth about the Foundry. Phoebe's father was the one who decided which mekhies would live and which would be smelted alive to create the technology that enriched the Foundry. Is he a traitor to his employer or simply attempting to atone for his past actions? Phoebe resolves to make amends by ending the slaughter of the mekhies. Her success will be determined in future volumes of the series. The authors clearly had a grand time creating a host of mekhies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities, some more human than the humans. Indeed, it would have been useful to have included a cast of characters. They also have a gift for description: "His splotchy complexion was the color of disease" is just one of several memorable word pictures. Unfortunately, Phoebe is such an odious character throughout the first part of the book that readers will have a hard time believing that, like the Grinch, her heart abruptly triples in size. Fans of steampunk and all things mechanical will have the most success in understanding an intricately devised and at times perplexing plot.-Pam Carlson.--VOYA
Gr 5-8 Phoebe Plumm lives in Meridian, a society controlled by the Foundry, a powerful corporation churning out unbelievable technology. Her father is an executive there, and his secretive work means that he is often away from home. Lonely, but incredibly spoiled, the 12-year-old spends her time playing pranks on Micah, a household servant, until she and her father are kidnapped by Foundry men. With Micah's help, Phoebe escapes and the two set off on a rescue mission. As they traverse the landscape of a peculiar world called Mehk, they discover that the metal Meridian uses for its technology is not mined, but rather harvested from intelligent beings who have their own language, culture, and even religion. Phoebe is horrified by her father's work and is determined to make things right. The authors have created an imaginative and profound world. The descriptions of the Mekhans are so original and detailed, readers might think these creatures actually exist. "Despite his attire, he was anything but human. His limbs were long, flexible hoses of tarnished metal, and instead of a lantern on his head, the lantern was his head." Combining elements of fantasy and steampunk, The Foundry's Edge explores how the exploitation and destruction of one group unfairly advances another. A fine addition to any middle grade collection. Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ--SLJ
A spoiled 12-year-old girl discovers that her country stands on a metal foundation "built from the bones of a murdered world." Phoebe Plumm lives a life of ease in Meridian, amusing herself with vengeful pranks and high-tech gadgets. Her father, Dr. Jules Plumm, does "something really important" at the Foundry, a company at the peak of technological innovation. But when a mysterious stranger starts following Phoebe, she and her father end up being whisked away by a series of mechanical Watchmen into a labyrinthine adventure. Phoebe's fellow traveler, former servant turned-sidekick Micah Tanner, manages to cause friction as often as he saves the day. As this trilogy opener develops, readers will see Phoebe transform herself from a self-acknowledged "stuck-up, pampered little brat" into an assertive mensch, astute to the flaws of the world that she lives in and ready to take on any enemies that come her way. Debut authors Baity and Zelkowicz are both film animators, and here, they work together to create an easily visualized, rollicking ride that explores the dynamics of power and resistance in various incarnations-both human and metallic. Given this background, it's not too surprising that there are moments when the story feels like a movie with too many special effects. An edgy, fast-moving, Seuss-ian political allegory for a new generation. (Fantasy. 9-13)--Kirkus
About the Author
CAM BAITY and BENNY ZELKOWICZ are writers, animators, and filmmakers who began collaborating after meeting at California Institute of the Arts. A Texas native, Cam has made several short films, and his work has been screened at numerous festivals around the globe, including the BBC British Short Film Festival. In addition, he worked on the motion picture Team America: World Police as well as the award-winning television series SpongeBob SquarePants. Canadian-born Benny studied science before turning his attention to animation, and his celebrated short The ErlKing was an official selection at both Sundance and the New York Film Festival. He has directed the BBC/CBC animated series Lunar Jim, and in the U.S. his work has been seen on television in The Simpsons. Both have contributed to Adult Swim's Robot Chicken and Moral Orel and reside in Los Angeles. Learn more about them at camandbenny.com.