Paul Crilley realeased this Steampunk mystery novel November 27th of last year. I pre-ordered it because it looked so interesting, and have been itching to dive into it since then. It has recieved glowing reviews thus far. According to the author, it's writing was heavily influenced by Sir Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (whose original stories I will one day read). Due to my (rather hidden) fascination with Sherlock Holmes and Steampunk style mystery as a whole, I'm taking this book up on everything people are saying it has to offer.
First Impressions: The Lazarus Machine does a good job opening and showing the main character, 17 year old Sebastion Tweed. Mr. Crilley has a fine grasp on setting up the world and the characters. As for plot, I can honestly not see where this is going. Though I can make some guesses based on the summary, the first chapter is more of an introductory chapter as to who you'll be following the whole novel. It's an interesting look into the life of Tweed, and his voice is both serious and sarcastic (which I am very fond of). It sets up the Tesla-powered technology, the soul-powered automatons, some of the laws that run the land... Really, Crilley's initial world setup is phenominal. I am excited to see what comes of this story and this amazing world I can tell he's already created.
Thoughts Halfway: Crilley has got himself a wonderful and unique story going here. There is a twist in the middle I have to say I could not have anticipated, and I really don't know how I feel about it. As a YA book, the prose of the novel is quite fast paced, but Crilley's writing style offers a nice balance. Things move quickly, but not too quickly. Events are revealed just fast enough to not lose a reader in details, and descriptions are short and concrete no matter how crazy the thing being described (like Tesla pistols or a top hat that fires electricty...). Crilley has me interested in his rendition of London, from the Ministry to New Scotland Yard he has completely evolved the city to adapt to its new technologies and ways of life. The characters are likeable and even entertaining. Thus far I feel confident saying that this book's worth reading, however the ending will be the ultimate defining point for that decision.
Final Verdict: I absolutely loved this story. I may have loved it so much that I'm overlooking some bad thing that's sure to be somewhere in there... But to be honest, if you like mystery, steampunk, or both then you'll most likely love this book. It's no doubt YA, and that fits this novel extremely well. Sebastian Tweed and Octavia Nightingale are fantastic characters, both unique in their own respects and with excellent backstories. A united motivation connects them in a way that, quite honestly, you can't begin to see one without the other. The villians are both unique and interesting. The reimagined Victorian London is a great image, and so much thought is put into the alternate history here. And the story is full of unexpected twists and discoveries, and as whimsical as any Steampunk novel ought to be. Honestly, the only thing that I think I could possibly complain about right now is negligable; that's the ending. The epilogue of the novel does some things up almost too much to give way for a sequel (besides the fact that there is still questions to be asked). The way it's written just seems to say "This is the end of the story" whereas had he ended it at the end of the last chapter, perhaps it would have fit more to lead up to the sequel he's currently writing. However, I did like the image the epilogue left us with, and therefore I can't really complain all that much. Overall, this is a great book with great characters. There's all kinds of goodness in here, and you should definately look into reading it.
Oh, and, Mr. Crilley, I love the reference in Stepp's name. ;)