The Machinery was recommended to me by a random person in the unofficial National Novel Writing Month Facebook group to fulfill my reading challenge category of "A book recommended by someone you've just met." I put it off and put it off because there were just more intriguing things on my list, and honestly I'm glad I did because if I hadn't read it with a looming end-of-year deadline, I don't think I would have finished it.
The main draw of this book is the world. The story takes place on one continent of the world (though it's made apparent the world is larger than that, and there has been some contact beyond this continent) where the government is chosen by something called the Machinery, which was created by a man known as the Operator. The Strategist is the head of the government and he's supported by a number of Tacticians. There are a group of people called Watchers who can see into your soul using their masks, also created by the Operator. And then there is a string of suspicious deaths, starting with the current Strategist and expanding to involve some of the Tacticians, in the year in which the Machinery was prophesied to break down and not select a new beneficial government, but rather someone who will bring ruin. And then there's Katrina Praprissi, the last of a once-powerful family, who watched her brother be stolen away by the Operator ten years ago and has spent the time since becoming a Watcher.
This is all a very interesting setup, but here's the thing... Nothing actually happens in this book. A few people are discovered dead. The people wait for new ones to be selected by the Machinery. There is a lot of going to and from different places and describing different buildings and how impressive it is that they exist. That's it. Even the most promising bits, typically involving Katrina and, later, one of the Tacticians, tended to drag a bit, and then peter out into nothing at the very end. But the end wasn't enough to redeem the sheer dullness of the rest of the book here. Honestly, a lot of this could have just been cut and the end brought up further, giving room for things to actually happen. But as it stands, I was pretty much bored out of my mind while reading this, and as I mentioned above, I think I would have abandoned it if I hadn't been on a deadline for my reading challenge. There's really not that much else to say about it.
2 stars out of 5, for a promising world but a story that failed to live up to its full potential.