Saturday, November 24, 2012

Read: Boneshaker - Cherie Priest

Due to the overewhleming acceptance of Priest's Boneshaker and the entire series of which it is the first as an excellent example of steampunk, I've picked up this one for the next book in my reading list. It wouldn't be very far off to say that this book (if not the whole series it's in) is one of--if not the--most known steampunk stories around. People, I introduce to thee, Boneshaker.

First Impression:The book begins with a history lesson. A slightly modified, slightly more fantastic history that needs to be taught. It talks about the Seattle that never was, and lays the foundation for the history of the civil war era that could possibly maintain a story like this. The first chapter introduces you to Briar, a plant worker who happens to be the daughter of a (at least slightly) infamous man; Hale, an author who hopes to write a biography of Briar's dead father; and mentions Zeke, Briar's son who is apparently a very mischievous child. I love the third person writing, and how Mrs. Priest represents and describes everything. It's difficult to gauge where the story might go at this point, but I am eager to see how it goes.

Thoughts Halfway: At the halfway point, I can say many different things, but I'll try to be concise. Firstly, Mrs. Priest has an excellent story going here. Though there are some ideas that are a little skeptical and highly impossible/improbable (like how the gas is contained, for example), but that's what fiction is for. I think I've officially fallen in love with Priest's writing style; she writes in limited third person through the eyes of both Briar and Zeke. However, she occasionally dips into another character to say something about or through them, but so elegantly that you hardly notice what she's doing if you don't watch carefully. Her description is very good too; makes you feel like you're with the characters at times. There's some issues with minor character actions sometimes, so that when it's mentioned in passing later you don't remember them having or doing something before for that action to make total sense. For instance, at one point there is a character that wears armor, but takes it off. They then go somewhere else, and in passing she mentions him wearing armor again, but not once was anything said about him putting it back on. So at this point, small nitpicks are all I have to offer by way of criticism. That and one other thing I'm noticing; this book feels far more like a post-apocalyptic zombie novel than it does a steampunk one.

Final Verdict: Wow, this took me a lot longer to read than I thought. Finishing this novel, however, I am pleased with the outcome. Mrs. Priest is an excellent writer. Her setting evokes in your mind powerful emotion and is a joy to read. The cramped, dirty spaces of Seattle are altogether unpleasant, but what she does with the settings are incredible. Her imagination for plot is sure to please any Steampunk (or general) reader. But one thing must be made clear: this is not a Steampunk novel. It has elements of the genre, but it is not Steampunk; rather post-apocalyptic altered history story with the inventiveness of a Steampunk one. That does not change the fact that this is an excellent story. She has this sort of effect in which she makes you think the next bit of the story couldn't possibly do anything important for the plot until BAM she hits you with the next big thing. The ending is a prime example of this. I won't spoil it, but, if you're analyzing the plot, you won't quite see where it's going or how it's going to tie up the few loose ends left. As it moves on Briar starts talking to her son about the past. She explains everything how it really happened, and suddenly... well, I won't say more. But personally, I loved the ending and how well it explained all of Briar's feelings and words throughout the novel. It made me happy. Go read this book. It's a grand adventure you won't soon forget!