Guilty pleasures -- we all have them. Once in a blue moon I crave Kraft macaroni and cheese out of a box, or a huge heaping pile of homemade mashed potatoes with chicken gravy made from fried chicken. Or a Marie Callender's pot pie, even though they're like 600 calories and almost as many grams of fat. Well, I have them in books, too, and my favorite guilty pleasures are steampunk and pulp. I just finished Boneshaker and it is the equivalent of hot comfort food between two covers.
I knew when I saw this book I had to have it. So buy it I did, and as soon as I picked it up and started reading, I fell in love. It's so quirky that it instantly appealed. And when I was finished with it, I wanted more. So I'm particularly grateful that there are rumors of more books set in this alternate-history world, and hopefully they'll be this good.
The author has managed to create a world that the reader can actually believe in, the mark of a good steampunk, sci-fi, or alternate history writer. For example, to be really honest, I don't normally like books (or movies) featuring flesh-eating zombies, but here in this world it works, because they are an after effect of the blight. They are a constant danger, and the book wouldn't be the same without them. Gas masks are essential for life in this world, and she never eases up on this point. Priest set her novel during the time of the Civil War, complete with airships and hot-air balloons, and she has included some real people and real places so the reader feels a bit more grounded while reading the novel. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, and people spend a lot of time underground, and I never lost track that this was Seattle (one of my favorite cities), albeit some time ago. And then there's the lemon sap, the drug of choice which a lot of people are making money on. Even the book's print is unique, giving you a feel that you're reading something from that era. And at its core, this book is really about a mom searching for her son, a storyline that is wholly believable.
The characters are also awesome; the villain of this book is one Dr. Minnericht, who tinkers with technology and holds the residents of downtown Seattle in his clutches. One of my favorite characters is Lucy, who has a robotic arm and runs an underground saloon called Maynard's. Then there's Swakhammer, who wears full body armor as protection against the Rotters (zombies). Even the characters you don't meet in person are great: Maynard Wilkes, for example, is a lawman who is revered both inside and outside of the gates, and there's Leviticus Blue, husband of Briar and father to Zeke (Briar and Zeke both tell the story from their alternating points of view) , who started the whole mess in the first place.
Cherie Priest has written an outstanding book here, and I can't wait for the new additions to the series to start rolling off the presses. Highly recommended for people who enjoy alternate history, or science fiction or steampunk. Or, if you're like me, and you just like quirky things very much away from the norm, you'll love this one.
I wanted to love this book. I had read high praise for Boneshaker, and snagged it as soon as it was available. Good points: visual description of alternate reality Seattle, lots of action, mother and son together in the story. Weak points: characters didn't really grab me. And I guess I'm not much for zombies (what can they do for a story if you don't really care about the characters who may turn into them or be harmed by them? Growl. Munch. Whatever...) One particularly vicious non-zombie killing faded off gratuitously into no further reference. Our protagonists end up purposeless on the last pages, facing big life choices that may get developed later, in another book. (I don't think the brown ink text is anything wonderful for the reading experience, although it is nice looking. Certainly not a reason to pick up the book.) Overall, I have to rate as "liked it slightly."
I have been wanting to read something from Cherie Priest for some time. When I saw Boneshaker out on the shelves and read the premise of it I had to get it. It was a good buy. I really enjoyed the book, the plot, the world, the characters, all of it. This is the first of three planned books to take place in the Clockwork Universe. The books are supposed to be unrelated stories set in the same universe.
Lecviticus Blue won a contest to drill for gold in the Klondike with his invention the Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine. Only problem was that on the first trial something went extremely wrong. The Drill ripped apart Seattle and released the Blight; a poisonous gas that turned many of the residents of Seattle into walking zombies that love to feast on raw flesh. A wall was built to contain the Blight. Briar Wilkes is Blue's widow and lives outside the Wall; she is eking out a living raising her son and daily deals with the hate of her fellow humans for the actions of her husband. Her son Zeke is determined to prove that his father was not a bad man so he sneaks back into the Blight filled city to find evidence. While he is there things go wrong and now Briar must enter the city of her childhood and face all of the horrors there if she is ever going to rescue her son.
This was a great book. I mean it had zombies, so that's pretty cool right there. It also had airships, lots of shotguns, non-stop action, beautiful descriptions, and a wonderful cast of characters. It shows how both a mother's love and humanity's penchant for survival can go against all odds.
You have to love Briar as a character, she has her flaws, but she is one resourceful mother and will stop at nothing to get back her son. Zeke is an awesome character too. Priest captured the family dynamics really well. All of the side characters were fascinating and interesting too.
The action is non-stop with danger lurking around literally every corner. The descriptions of the various steampunk machinery are wonderful and well-done. This is steampunk adventure at its best. I think just about everyone will find this book a fascinating read. It could also be read to young adults, maybe not younger kids though; it gets pretty scary and there are quite a bit of rather violent fighting scenes.
The aesthetics of the book also bear mentioning. This was the first book I have ever read that is on an deep off-white paper with the words printed in a deep rust color; it does a good job of setting the mood of the story. I was worried that the lower contrast would make it hard to read; but it didn't, just lent the book a very, well, steampunk feeling!
This is definitely a keeper and I look forward to reading the next two Clockwork Universe novels that are planned. I will also be checking out Priest's previous works like her Eden Moore series.
OK first time I ventured into the "steampunk" genre. I didn't know what that term meant before and still don't have quite enough grasp of it but it seems to involve lots of steam-powered machinery. But this book goes beyond just the engineering and mechanics behind steam power.
Yes this is also a "zombie" book, and it reminded me much of "28 Days Later" where the zombies were kind of the background danger but the focus was more on humanity and the survivors. BTW The zombie attacks were quite well described- every scene outdoors had a great tension to it.
This book is also an alternate history about Seattle and the Civil War. Lots of fun to read because I recently visited Seattle and the Smith Tower, which plays a role in this book.
And lastly (I'm rambling! sorry), this is an adventure with a mother going into the zombie-infested walled up city of Seattle to find her teenage son. This woman is very tough and strong- yay afor strong female characters!
This book has a wonderful heroine, Briar Wilkes Blue, who has a son Zeke (short for Ezekiel). Poor and hardworking, she struggles to make a life working at the water plant. Her husband, Levi, was the proverbial mad scientist. He designed a machine for the Russians who wanted to dig for gold through ice, snow and frozen earth. When he tests the machine (boneshaker) it drives into the earth releasing toxic gas that makes downtown Seattle unliveable without a mask to strain the air. That area is walled in to contain the gas which is dense and heavy and settles close to the ground. The people who survive the event blame Briar for her husband's folly and make life for her and Zeke difficult. When Zeke decides to go into the walled off area to find the truth about his father, Briar follows him. Both make new friends who have found a way to live underground, cope with the gas, and meet the bad guy of the area who claims to be Levi Blue! Is he or isn't he? Will he keep Briar and Zeke prisoners in his luxurious underground home? The tales moves quickly to a surprising climax that left me admiring the author's imagination and creativity.