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The Boneshaker

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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,002 ratings  ·  259 reviews
Thirteen-year-old Natalie Minks loves machines, particularly automata--self-operating mechanical devices, usually powered by clockwork. When Jake Limberleg and his traveling medicine show arrive in her small Missouri town with a mysterious vehicle under a tarp and an uncanny ability to make Natalie's half-built automaton move, she feels in her gut that something about this ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 24th 2010 by Clarion Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephen
DAMN YOU YA NOVELS!! Why do you so often strut around flashing such delicious, mouth-watering premises only to end up tasting like rice cakes dipped in peanut butter and leaving me feeling unsatiated, frustrated...and very, very thirsty. I certainly don't mean all YA novels as there are quite a few that have left my literary gluttony stuffed and smiling (you good ones know who you are). This story, however, just another under-delivering promise tease.

Now, this tale isn't terrible, but it had su
...more
Betsy
It seems that no successful book is an island. Or, to put it another way, no successful genre of book. In the children’s book world Harry Potter does well and suddenly the market is flooded with wizard tales. Twilight stars vampires, so now you can’t walk down the teen aisle in a bookstore without fifty different kind of knock-offs. The Hunger Games sells relatively well and now dystopian fiction is the buzzword of the day. That’s all well and good, but to the victor go the spoils of establishin ...more
Cindy
A fun, fantastical YA story about standing your ground especially when you are at a crossroads, and a strong analytical girl who needs to be brave enough to help the people she loves.
_________________

Thirteen year old Natalie Minks loves bicycles, clockwork gadgets, solving puzzles and listening to her mother's endless stories about their town. Growing up in rural Missouri in 1913, she lives near a major crossroads with the ruins of the former town left perplexingly in-tact down the road. One da
...more
Kate
Oct 26, 2012 Kate added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Look, there is the possibility--the very, very slight possibility--that I might be biased. I doubt it, but I felt full disclosure was in order here.
Michelle
I have put off reviewing The Boneshaker for some time now because it leaves me feeling absolutely inadequate to the task. It is quite possibly one of the best books I have ever read.

The Boneshaker is the story of Natalie Minks, a young tomboy with a passionate love of all things mechanical. Few things give her more pleasure than tinkering with her father on their automata, unless it is perhaps her red Chesterlane, a beautiful boneshaker of a bicycle he built for her. Except that she cannot ride
...more
Sandra Stiles
Just received the book yesterday. Yea!
I just went back to school and found the book in my box. I am glad I had the opportunity to read and review it. This story is set in 1913 and the main character is 13 year old tomboy Natalie Minks from Arcane, Missouri. She likes all things mechanical and helps her father. When she isn't helping him she listens to her mother who is a master story teller. Things plug along smoothly until the traveling medicine show comes to town. At this point I have to say t
...more
Crowinator
Why I picked it up: Cool cover (which depicts very relevant scenes from the novel instead of something abstract), even cooler premise. They had me at crossroads demon.

What I thought: This was a top 2010 read for me. Good and evil battle for human souls in a dusty, rural, close-knit Midwestern town in the early 1900s. A crossroads demon, a doctor who sold his soul to save lives but winded up cursing those he helped, a musician who once beat the devil in a fiddle contest, and an ambiguous larger-t
...more
Dan Rogers
Aug 23, 2011 Dan Rogers marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
One of the most difficult things I've ever had to do as a reader is to give myself permission to abandon a book. As a child I would always force myself to finish a book once I had started it, no matter how badly I disliked it. Not so anymore. I have finally gotten to the point where I firmly believe, and I tell my students this all the time, there are too many goods books out there waiting to be read to spend your time finishing a book you just don't like. This book is one of those books. I have ...more
Jenn Estepp
eh, i'm just not seeing what everyone else seems to be seeing in this book. it's not steampunk, not bradbury-esque (it takes more than a carnival and a bit of evil to call up mr. ray), and it's not filled with writing i feel is remarkable.

perhaps i am contrary. perhaps you will like it.

eta: i just read a bunch of blog posts on this book. they were all pretty glowing. so maybe this is my "when you reach me" of the year - the book everyone loves but me, which will probably go on to pick up a crazy
...more
Donalyn
Forget vampires, talking animals, and mythology tropes, Kate Milford offers a fantasy tale that brings back the age old battle between mankind and the Devil-- the battle for our souls.

Wendy
So... I liked, didn't love this book. (3-4 stars.) I think some of it is my own fault. I had trouble keeping some of the secondary characters straight, and this made the last third very confusing; if I'd read more carefully, maybe I would have "gotten" it more. This is a scary book about big issues, which is fantastic, but somehow it didn't speak directly to me the way, say, The Dark is Rising does. I do think all of my criticisms are related to the book being too long by half.

While-Reading Upda
...more
Andree
Default 3 star rating. In other words, I really don't know how to write this one.

I don't know what I think about this book. I think I wanted to like this book more than I did. There are parts I loved. Tom Guyot for a start, and Miranda, and Natalie herself - most of the characters are great, actually. There are parts this book that really worked. But on the other hand, there are parts that never really came together. Something about the writing, the way it's told frustrated me. I felt like I was
...more
Donna
Overall we liked this one. We thought it was NICE. It was a NICE book that was short enough on WORDS to keep us from loving it. But we liked it. It was pleasant and ultimately enjoyable. Read our thoughts for yourself over at the YAck blog and maybe give THE BONESHAKER a try. It couldn’t hurt.
E.J. Stevens
A magical tale of secrets and wonder and the power of one's own confidence. The Boneshaker by Kate Milford (not to be mistaken with Boneshaker by Cherie Priest) begins with Natalie Minks in her sleepy little town of Arcane, where her biggest concern is trying to master riding her new bicycle, a bizarre contraption that her father built for her. Natalie's life, and the lives of Arcane's inhabitants, rapidly changes as a band of strangers, claiming to be Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Techn ...more
Cecelia
A relatively complex, layered YA read, this book is most basically about the battle between good and evil. Natalie lives in a small town located near a crossroads, which, as we are reminded a number of time, is a place where strange things can happen. At the same time that Natalie is struggling to learn to ride "the fastest bike in the world," built for her by her father, a mysterious travelling medicine show comes to town and Natalie seems to be the only one who notices that anything is off abo ...more
Courtney Johnston
Somewhere near the beginning of the last century, deep down in Missouri, a 13-year-old girl gets on her bike and races out to the close-by cross-road, to bargain with the devil for the life of her town.

Kate Milford's 'The Boneshaker' is being cast as steampunk, but I don't know that I agree with that - it's certainly very different from Scott Westerfield's 'Leviathan', or Philip Reeves' series set in - and on - futuristic, mobile, scavenging cities.

Instead, Milford's book is set in that mysterio
...more
Karissa
I have heard great things about this book and was excited to read it. I received this book as an advanced reading copy through the Amazon Vine Program. It was a wonderful book and I really enjoyed it.

Natalie Minks loves working on all things mechanical. She has an awesome bike that she built with her dad, but cannot ride. When a company of traveling medicine men shows up in town she thinks something is not right with them. When the lead Dr. of the group, Jake Limberleg, makes one of Natalie's au
...more
Ahimsa
I don't read a lot of YA these days, so my review should be read with that in mind.

The Boneshaker is an enjoyable read, but Milford's first novel is pretty obviously just that. The setting is interesting, and the stakes reach a nice level of danger without getting too apocalyptic. Natalie is in a character in the vein of Lyra Silvertongue and it's easy to root for her. The mixing of classic tales is nice as well. One Robert Johnson like character is immensely interesting.

But the flaws are many.
...more
Marleigh
First line: "Strange things can happen at a crossroads."

Summary: Bicycles, mystic powers, clockwork, patent medicines, and the Devil.

I recognize that's a fairly odd summary, but I'm not sure how else to describe it without giving too much away. The book is less about the plot and more about building some rather creeptastic imagery in your mind. Kind of felt like the Gormenghast novels that way, except for young adults and with a sensible editor keeping things in check. And the vibe is more Ameri
...more
Kate
Natalie lives in the small town of Arcane, near a crossroads. When Jake Limberleg and his traveling medicine show comes to town, Natalie is immediately curious and suspicious, especially about Limberleg's perpetual motion automatons.

I thought I would like this more. It had steampunk elements, some good vs. evil with demons... and yet the writing was a bit too wordy and I found myself wishing to be reading other things instead of this. Natalie didn't seem like a fully three-dimensional character
...more
Ea Solinas
"The Boneshaker" is an odd book. I somehow expected a story about a girl's fascination with automata to be a little more steampunky, but Kate Milford's novel is more of a historical snapshot of a time in America's history when machinery was starting to rise. It's a dusty, grease-smeared little novel, but it has a tendency to ramble off in odd directions.

Natalie Minks loves all machines -- cars, bicycles, and the wind-up automata that are her newest fascination. Unfortunately, the ignorant people
...more
Alison
Even if it started pretty slowly, this was a really good book. Natalie's a great protagonist: brave, and intelligent, but still a bit of smartass punk kid. I liked the inclusion of a distinct American mythos, flavored with Christianity but not quite Biblical. And I especially liked how The Boneshaker is about Natalie assuming her mother's legacies, and stories, and the power of looking things right in the face.

Still, though. If this is set in 1913 Missouri, why is there only one black person?
Oliver H.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie
Review to come for Library Media Connection.

One thing I will say: what an unfortunately unattractive cover. I think Clarion needs some assistance in the art department. (See, for example, the hardcover art for Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard or Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy. Even Katherine Paterson's newest looks pretty dull, in spite of the subject matter.) At least the covers usually improve when they are released in paperback editions.

And yes, I do judge a book by its cover!
Eli Deabay
Ridiculously good...

The Boneshaker is a chilling thriller that will leave wanting more and more as you read each chapter. I remember one night while I was reading, I started at 9:30 and didn't stop reading until 12:30. I couldn't help it, each chapter kept adding a piece to the puzzle and I got curious about what will happen next.

The setting takes place in a small town called Arcane, which is located next to an abandoned village with crossroads. Strange things happen at the crossroads, wheels
...more
Heather
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did, but this was a hard book to get into. Unfortunately, many of my students felt the same way. I kept reading, because I wanted to find ways to encourage my students to finish the book. (It's required reading for our Reader's Rally team.) Although the story is slow to start, it gets better.

Here's what I liked:
* The main character, Natalie. She was likable with just the right amount of spunk.
* The idea of Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Tech
...more
Angela
Mar 20, 2015 Angela marked it as wishlist  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk, available, ya
4 March 2015: $1.99 on Kindle

26 December 2014: $1.99 on Kindle
MyACPL Athens County Public Libraries
from Laura:

Mildly steampunk with some surprising Biblical elements. Spooky and mysterious. Automata, wandering musicians, a medicine show, a smart and inquisitive heroine, a great opening line, detailed illustrations.

Favorite quotes:

It was hard sometimes to tell which stories were true and which ones weren't, but if Natalie was sure of anything, it was that in Arcane, you couldn't be sure of anything at all.

There. She was hooked. There was nothing, nothing Natalie's mother liked better than tell
...more
Sarah
Another longshot--this seems old for a Newbery. I like a Newbery winner to be at least 5th grade or younger. This seems solidly 6th and up.
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3091721
Kate is the author of THE BONESHAKER, THE BROKEN LANDS, GREENGLASS HOUSE, and the forthcoming THE LEFT-HANDED FATE (Fall 2015). She is also the author of the self-published Arcana Project series. The first two volumes, THE KAIROS MECHANISM and BLUECROWNE, can be purchased for e-readers at all the usual outlets and in paperback from www.clockworkfoundry.com or www.mcnallyjackson.com. The third volu ...more
More about Kate Milford...
Greenglass House The Broken Lands The Kairos Mechanism (Arcana, #1) Bluecrowne (Arcana, #2) Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Reader

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“When there's evil standing in your way, you got to get around it however you can, Natalie. You got to look it in the eye, let it know you see it and that it can't creep up on you. What's dangerous is pretending it isn't there at all and letting it get closer and closer while you're looking someplace else, until suddenly evil's walking alongside you like you were two friends out for a stroll on Sunday. So you look it in the face. You tell it with your eyes that you know what it is, that it don't have you fooled. You tell it you know what GOOD looks like.” 12 likes
“Most things cost something you can give up, but they aren’t worth anything – not really, not in the end. But some things . . . some have to be given free, because if you had to put a price on them, their true value would be too great for any one person to afford.” 3 likes
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