Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Steampunk / Fantasy|
|Release Date:||September 29, 2009|
This is one of those times where I have to kick myself a little for not picking a book sooner.
I had heard about the zombies and airships and politely went, “Okay, that sounds interesting.” and would then commence reading something else. If someone had mentioned that there was an awesome middle-aged mother who sets off to rescue her son, I MIGHT HAVE READ IT SOONER. Gah!
Anyway, the story is about one Briar Wilkes, whose dead husband Leviticus Blue was pretty much responsible for unearthing zombie making gas with his Boneshaker mining machine. Fifteen years later, there’s a wall around Seattle to contain the fumes and Briar’s teenage son Zeke wants proof that his papa wasn’t the horrible person that local legend has made him out to be. This means that Zeke has to go venturing into the zombie-infested area within the Wall. And Briar has to go rescue him.
As I mentioned earlier, I thought that the characters were awesome. No one was acting as some kind of ideal. Briar has a lot of emotional baggage that she’s toting around and she worries that she might not be a good mother. But I can’t help but admire her single minded focus and determination when she goes to find Zeke. I thought her issues were reasonable for someone who had been effectively ostracized through no fault of her own and I appreciated her worry that she wasn’t doing right by Zeke. I also appreciated her ability to take the measure of the people she met and how she kept a very clear idea of who and what was important to her at all times.
Zeke could have been irritating, except the large dose of terror and “Oh did I ever make a mistake” realization early on did much to fix that misconception. He recognizes his inexperience and I appreciated his reaction to that realization. The side characters were mostly memorable and I enjoyed their attitudes.
I felt that certain things were well led in. Those bits of narrative economy that made the end revelations not as shocking as they could have been nevertheless left enough out that there were still surprises to be found. Briar’s father’s deeds and how certain people deified him as a result, was a rather interesting study in how people see and build up heroes.
I liked the attention to detail in the worldbuilding, particularly regarding the political scene that resulted in the Boneshaker’s commissioning. The little tidbits here and there about the Klondike Gold Rush and the US Civil War all help with the immersion factor for the story overall. In addition, the tight relationship the people living within the Wall had, with their breathing apparatuses, was worked in seamlessly with the ever present risk of the Blight gas and the zombies as this constant undercurrent to all of their personal interactions and physical movements. I thought it made for an interesting way to confine people and limit their movements.
For the first time in months, I’m finding myself at a loss for actual criticisms. There’s probably something that bugged me, but considering I am drawing a blank trying to recall it…into the “who cares?” bucket it goes!
So, for an awesome steampunk novel with a good mix of horror elements thrown in for spice, Boneshaker is made of WIN.