In the Machine takes place in the 1800s sometime during Walt Whitman's lifetime. A young boy, Lucas and his family have just experienced the devastating loss of Simon their son and brother to a machine in the factory that he worked at. Lucas' parents are either sick or devastated over the loss of Simon and can no longer care for the family, so Lucas must go to work. He bravely marches off to the very same factory that his brother was killed in and secures himself a job at the machine his brother was killed at. Lucas cannot help but spout Walt Whitman verse at odd moments, by the way. He speaks this verse most often to Catherine who was Simon's betrothed; however Lucas in his own way is very much in love with Catherine as well.
The Children's Crusade takes place in modern day New York where a police detective, Cat, who takes bomb-scare calls from the crazies, missed one of the classic signs during a call and now is dealing with the after effects of a suicide-bomb. She eventually gets a call from the bomber's brother, Luke, telling her that he will be the next one to kill someone with a suicide-bomb. This results in Cat chasing around trying to find Luke before he kills himself and anyone else. Luke was raised in a house papered in pages from Walt Whitman's books and has therefore memorized a great many verses. He too replies to conversation in Walt Whitman verse rather than normal speak.
Like Beauty takes places in the future. Simon is 1/2 human, 1/2 machine and he works in Central Park in New York City to harass and beat up tourists (who pay for this experience). He has some sort of calendar going off in his head however, that is telling him that he needs to be in Denver on June 21. Catareen is a sentient lizard from another planet who was a nanny and had been walking with her charges in Central Park. She and Simon had always nodded to each other politely when they saw each other and maybe even talked briefly. One day a drone hovered overhead and caught them speaking and questioned Catareen afterward. Simon saw this and after the drone was done questioning Catareen he asked her what the drone wanted. Determining that the drone wanted nothing good and that Catareen was going to be in trouble, the two of them headed off for Denver and the June 21st deadline. Simon, by the way, was programmed to speak in verses of Walt Whitman.
I loved the way the three characters, Simon Catherine (Cat, Catareen) and Luke (Lucas) were all in the three stories but were such different characters in each of them. I thought it was such a clever way to tell a story - three distinct stories. You still got the length of a novel, but you also got the short story experience as well.
Rating: 10 / 10
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Edition: 1st Edition