Monday, January 11, 2010

[Lisa’s Take] Boneshaker – Cherie Priest

I admit that I’m a little put off by all of the Steampunk themed literature coming out lately. It feels like a late arrival to a bandwagon that is already pretty full. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Steampunk movement and I have the costumes to prove it… I just feel a little weird about the huge influx of Steamy books. Blame JD, he’s the one who got me thinking that things that are “in” are inherently not good.

Boneshaker is very Steampunk, complete with sky pirates, gear-filled clockwork, and wondrous inventions. And then there are zombies, another topic that puts me off a lot. Still, in spite of all of the thematic elements that are so popular right now… I managed to enjoy Boneshaker quite a lot. I’m not feeling very verbose at the moment, so I’ll break this down piece-mill.

Characters – The two main characters, Briar and her son Zeke, are solid and sympathetic. The supporting cast is colorful and varied, and I enjoyed each new character introduction. I thought it was really cool that Cherie Priest could pull of a good 35-year-old protagonist when so much fantasy these days centers around the “young adult” aged characters. My only character complaint was that Zeke read to me more like a 12 or 13 year old than a 15 year old… but that’s pretty minor.
Plot - I very much enjoyed the story, and I am always thrilled when an author can write a great, colorful story in a single volume. I’m getting a little fed up with the trilogy fad, so I’m happy to heap some praise on a single volume. Boneshaker had a strong setup, good narrative, and solid conclusion. There’s some space in the story for Priest to write another story in the world if she would like, but no real dangling plot lines.

Pacing - In spite of its 400-odd pagecount, Boneshaker reads incredibly quickly. I sucked this one down in about a day (hooray vacation!). The breakneck speed was fun… but I also would have liked to see a bit more ebb and flow in the pacing. There was a small reprieve before the book’s climax, but more contrast overall would have been nice.

There you have it; in spite of all my biases, Boneshaker was a good read. Not amazing or world-changing, but a nice bit of fun. Readers who are new to the idea of Steampunk will find some cool gems, those who are familiar with Steampunk will have a bit of fun, and even readers like me who are a bit jaded on the whole thing will eat their words by the end.