Monday, April 11, 2011

BONESHAKER, Cherie Priest

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay, I confess, you had me at "steampunk zombie airship adventure." I had to pick this one up after that.

Sixteen years ago, Leviticus Blue tested the Boneshaker, a magnificent machine built to tunnel into the ice in the frozen Yukon and dig out the gold sealed there. Unfortunately, the test went horribly awry, and a huge chunk of the newly founded city of Seattle caved in. Worse, the excavation released a poisonous gas that turned people into ravenous flesh-eating zombies. Now, the city is sealed behind an apparently impenetrable brick wall.

Briar Wilkes, Levi Blue's widow, ekes out a meager living on the Outskirts, the part of the city that remains outside the wall. She's a pariah, harassed by people who take out their anger for the destruction of the city on her. Her son Ezekiel goes under the wall to seek the answers that will clear his father's name. Briar goes after him. As it turns out, more than zombies live inside the wall, and there are more secrets than even Ezekiel suspects...

The good: this book really moves. You get right into the adventure, and there's flying and fighting and running and more fighting all the way through. And the steampunk setting and alternate history brilliantly uphold the Rule of Cool.

The bad: it's hard to really become engaged with these characters. Briar's aptly named, and Ezekiel just makes you want to smack him. Unfortunately, Priest is so eager to get you into the above-mentioned running and flying and fighting etc. that it's not till later in the book that you get beyond that to the place where you start to care if they live or die. That makes parts of the book a bit of a slog, airships and zombies notwithstanding.

Also, while Priest does provide some explanation as to why people would continue to inhabit a walled city where the very air can kill you if you're not ripped to shreds and eaten by the walking dead, it's never a really satisfying explanation. I mean, I know the Civil War's still raging back east, but hello? Zombies? Briar's revelation at the end was even more implausible, IMHO.

All that said, it was a quick, fun read, and worth picking up.

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Steve Malley said...

Totally with you on the characters, but I was having too much fun to mind! I have the 'sequel', Dreadnought, beckoning to me from the shelves... :)

Fran said...

I haven't read that one, but Cherie has a vampire thief one out (Bloodshot) that totally rocks. And I'm not saying that just 'cause she's a local author who's really nice.