Friday, December 14, 2012

Review Me Twice- Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

As we've been discussing all week, Boneshaker was our book of choice this week.  I suggested it, mainly because it's been floating around for awhile, a lot of people have been talking about it and, part of the point of this blog is to inform our readers about what's out there.  The Good, The Bad, The Popular and if The Popular is Good or Bad.

Boneshaker most certainly falls into the good category.  It's a great steam punk novel and really gives an interesting twist to history; the Civil war has been raging on for years with no end in sight, Seattle isn't actually part of the united states yet and the world has simultaneously progressed and stayed stagnant.  Briar is living on the outskirts of Seattle with her son, Zeke.  What could possibly be better than steam punk in messed up America in the mid-1800s?

Well, hasn't anyone ever told you to just add Zombies?  Apparently, someone told Priest, because she did, and it worked.  Now, maybe I'm biased, but I'm of the mind it's really hard to mess up a Zombie story (though... I've read two of them that were pretty terrible, so maybe I'm not that biased.)  Briar has been shunned by basically everyone because her husband caused the zombies (or rotters, as they refer to them in the book) and no one can stop the blight, a gas that is seeping up from the Earth and will turn any human that breathes it in too long.  Walls are the only thing separating the blight from the rest of human kind.

And Zeke goes right into the middle of Seattle, and the blight, looking for answers to his past.  About his father, his grandfather, even his mother.  

The best thing about this book (despite the fact that it had airship pirates and zombies and really, everything to make a great story, executed wonderfully) was that you cared about EVERY character.  You cared about both Zeke and Briar.  You cared about the men in the bar that Briar ran into.  You cared when character fell.  You even cared about the bad guy!  He was mean and nasty and you hated him but you cared about what happened to him because he's so awful.  You want to reach into the book and choke him.  There were characters that you barely met and still, you cared what happened to them.  It's a rare talent that makes you really get invested in characters so easily, and Priest has that talent.

The book has everything you could want, including an interesting ending (that you may or may not guess.)  I only have one complaint about the whole book.  And it's barely a complaint.  It's a little slow to start.  The first few chapters are a little uninteresting and you're not really sure why you care, but it doesn't last long, I promise.  It's just a little bit in the beginning and then you're hook; then you have to know what happens.

My bottom line 5 out of 5

I agree with Cassy that this book definitely falls into the category of "good" (if not "great" or at least "very good"). And, unlike Cassy, I am not a big fan of the zombie genre. (I prefer the infection genre, which is very close, but not quite the same thing.)

The one downfall I found to Boneshaker is that it is long, and therefore I had to read it very quickly in order to get through it so I could review it for you, dear friends. Had I not been working with a deadline, I could have taken my time reading, and spent more of that time lingering on the descriptions.

One of the most difficult things an author can do - from what I can tell - is to think up something that looks a specific way in their head, then try to describe it to the reader. No matter how specific and detailed a description the author gives, I believe it is entirely impossible to describe anything or anyone in such a way as to make the reader see exactly what the author had in mind. (If seeing exactly what the writer had in mind is important, perhaps a switch to the medium of film is in order.) I admire Priest's ability to describe things and people succinctly. She doesn't spend more than a sentence or two describing any one person (with reinforcing statements later reminding you of their stature or movements, perhaps) but I had a very clear picture in my mind the entire time I was reading.

This is a suspenseful book, with a clean cycle of rotating "omigosh they're in trouble" to "phew, they're all right" and back and forth and so on. What I think I'm saying is that it's paced like an adventure novel, so if you don't like that, this might bother you. But I'm not typically a fan of reading adventure (I prefer them in film, because they feel redundant in print) but I really enjoyed this.

I very highly recommend this book to a wide audience: anyone who likes adventure, action, zombie stories, steampunk, or wants something a little new and different to read. There are other books from the same universe (as Cassy was so kind to mention on Tuesday) and I am very interested in reading every last one of them.

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