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The Inexplicables (The Clockwork Century #4)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,673 Ratings  ·  222 Reviews
Rector “Wreck ’em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s
Paperback, 366 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Tor Books
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Sep 10, 2013 Carol. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: it's a hard knock life fans
The Goonies meets The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and stages an Intervention.

In her "Acknowledgments," Priest notes that this is likely "the last book I write in Seattle." It's an small bit of foreshadowing for a story that reads a little like a love note to the lost teens of the city, an expression of their conditions and their struggles for direction.

Set in an alternate 1880, Seattle has been walled off from the world for almost twenty years, ever since The Blight, a noxious substance that turns
Dec 21, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
I sat down last night to read one chapter before getting some other stuff done, and wound up reading the remaining 3/4 of the book. As with the other books in the series, this was engaging, thrilling, fun. Like the characters in the book, I've become somewhat inured to these particular zombies. Priest seems to realize that, and provides new threats. If I have any complaint, it's that the action at the end of the book seemed a little rushed and distant. That said, the POV character wasn't on the ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing
*cue sing-song falsetto*
*ok, done singing now*
Once again Cherie Priest delivers a fully realized world, full of fully fleshed-out people (well, except for the zombies...), fully engaging my imagination.
In this book a young man we'd met briefly several books earlier in the Clockwork Century series, Rector "Wreck'em" Sherman is kicked out of the orphanage that he'd called home since the age of 2. Or at least the assumption was that he was about 2 at the time he was dropped off. Know one kn
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The Inexplicables is the fourth book I've now read in Cherie Priest's remarkable "Clockwork Century" steampunk series, and in fact a quote from one of my earlier reviews ended up making the front cover of this one; and that surprised and delighted me but also felt very natural, because this is one of my fa
⊱ Irena ⊰
I guess you could read this book without reading Boneshaker first, but it's better when you have more information about the Outskirts, the wall, the city itself and those inside. I would suggest reading all four before this one, but Boneshaker is the one with the strongest connection.

Rector Sherman is turning eighteen and has to leave the Home (the orphanage). The only thing he has any control of is the time of his leaving. He decides that two in the morning is good time as any. He almost emptie
Dec 16, 2012 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2012
2 Stars

In a nut shell, this is by far the weakest of the series, and the only one that I did not love. Rector could not carry the story for me, nor could the truth behind the Inexplicables.

This is probably my biggest disappointment read of 2012 as I am a huge Cherie Priest fan, and I love this series. I wanted to love it, I was barely able to finish it...

Until next time!
Dec 12, 2012 Larou added it
This is either the fifth or the fourth book (depending on whether you count Clementine in or not) in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series, and it differs from the previous ones in several aspects. The most obvious one is that it is the first that is not named after a piece of machinery, but instead after living beings (which do not even play that much of a central part in the novel). Another difference (or really several, but they belong together) is that it is the first that does not have a ...more
First posted here

'The Inexplicables' is the forth full length entry in the 'Clockwork Century' series, an alternate American history. In this alternate world the Civil War has been going for twenty years, with Texas on their own and the south freeing their own slaves to continue the war. In the first book of the series, 'Boneshaker', we learn that a gassy blight was released in Seattle, leading to the requisite steampunk zombies. A wall was set up to keep the blight in, but a lucrative side busi
Jan 17, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok
A really mediocre read in Cherie Priest's CLockwork Century series. One thing I'm always amazed at is how a good writer can take a premise that sounds a little silly from the outside, and turn it into something believable and engaging. That never happens with this novel, and without the willing suspension of disbelief "The Inexplicables" is a hard pill to swallow. Some of the characters from the past novels return, some that I like but none that I love, and the walled-in Seattle setting are the ...more
Nov 19, 2012 Laurel rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
There is something about the tone of Priest's books. It pulls me into another world, and wraps me up in a feeling of both kinship and wonder. I "get" the people she writes. They vividly remind me of the people I grew up with in a small working class town. I also share their sense of awe at the changing landscape around them. Great war machines, burgeoning scientific discoveries. They're all as fantastical as they are worrisome, and I'm hooked. I'll follow my comrades along any journey, willing t ...more
Fantasy Literature
Sep 04, 2014 Fantasy Literature rated it liked it
The Inexplicables is the fifth book in Cherie Priest’s CLOCKWORK CENTURY series. This one returns to its roots, the walled, Blight-ridden city of Seattle. It’s 1881, and the American Civil War is still going on. Eighteen years earlier, a powerful mining device tapped into a vein of gas deep into the earth, and the gas spilled out into Seattle, killing most people and turning them into “rotters” or zombies. The source of the outbreak (downtown Seattle) was walled off and abandoned, but some brave ...more
Nov 13, 2015 Brendan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Steampunk Zombie Enthusiasts
Recommended to Brendan by: NYPL
I'm not quite sure why I keep reading these. Probably boils down to there being a lot of SP stories but a dearth of actual novels, with a solid % of those novels being horrible YA stuff. FYI, there's spoiler hints throughout this -- it's not too bad, but it's enough for a discerning person to pick up the gist...

1) Horrible consistency with the Gas, seems to rip some metal objects apart within days if not hours, yet other things seems to last in the gas for 18 years and keep working? There's no "
Mar 09, 2015 Enso rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a bit rough. If you hadn't read the rest of Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" series, I don't think it would really be a very good read. It is a classic "middle book" but it doesn't really even move the whole series forward the way, say, "Dreadnought," did.

Its main reason for existence seems to be to provide a return to the late 1800's zombie plagued and blighted Seattle of "Boneshaker," the first book in this series. We get to see Zeke, the protagonist of that book, from the vie
Michael Davis
Nov 15, 2012 Michael Davis rated it really liked it
Damn if she doesn't keep getting better and better. Loved the return to Seattle, and the conflicted protagonist. Not quite as colorful as Ganymede, her last, but still a complete pleasure. Only complaint: over too soon. (as per usual- too good to put down.)
Feb 24, 2013 Jaime rated it it was ok
Shelves: steampunk
Nowhere near as good as Boneshaker. This series had fallen apart and holds almost none of its original charm. This is just a boring book without a lot going for it. I hate to say that because I loved the earlier books.
Apr 04, 2015 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best of the series, but still a good read. Seemed to lack the scope of the other books, but did a good job of explaining the current state and value of Seattle.
Joe Informatico
Given how great the previous installments of this series have been this one was kind of a letdown. In the previous books we explored different regions of Priest's alternate-history 19th century United States, where the Civil War has been raging for 20 years and zombies are slowly appearing everywhere with the help of a new addictive drug. Each new stop introduced a whole new cast of interesting characters, while tying them to the growing plot arc of the entire series.

Here, we return to rotter-b
Ole Imsen
Mar 23, 2013 Ole Imsen rated it it was amazing
In this volume of her A Clockwork Century series, Priest takes us back to Seattle, the setting of the first book in the series, Boneshaker. It's a welcome return, both to the setting, and to the characters from the first book. As an added bonus for those who enjoy this series, there's also mention of the events of Dreadnought and Ganymede. And we get to see how Dreadnought's main character Mercy Lynch has settled into the walled city of Seattle.
There's always the danger when an author revisits
Dan Lemke
Jan 14, 2013 Dan Lemke rated it liked it
This book was not as exciting as the previous three entries to the Clockwork Century. There's not a lot going on in the plot, as least not directly. Unlike "Boneshaker" it's not a tale of terror and lacks the awe of a new world; unlike "Dreadnaught" and "Ganymede" it lacks the sense of adventure that made those two installments exciting. What Priest has done with "The Inexplicables" is create something of a stage-setter for further work in the series, which promises to have plenty of material to ...more
Mar 02, 2013 Terri rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Cherie Priest just gets better and better and has written a fast paced and moving fifth book in The Clockwork Century series, an alternate history of Civil War era late 19th century America. Priest has more developed characters and the story has greater depth than previous novels in the series. In The Inexplicables we clearly see that most people are neither fully good nor fully bad but are, instead, a mixed bag. We also see that some are driven by substances that override the normal internal ch ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it
...Priest delivered another strong volume in the Clockwork Century series. Like the previous volumes The Inexplicables is a fast, fun read. People who loved the previous books will want to pick up this one. Personally I get the feeling that Priest is steadily working towards a resolution of the overarching story but I don't think we'll see it in the next novel Fiddlehead, which is scheduled for release in November 2013 and will have Belle Boyd as the main character. Readers who have read Clement ...more
Nov 21, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
So the latest book in the Clockwork Century series. I enjoyed it. I bought the book at a signing with Cherie Priest so I actually heard her talk about it quite a bit before reading it. That probably influenced my reading of it a bit. I expected the main character, Rector, to be more of a drug addict, or at least for that aspect of his character to be more important than it was in the book. But I didn't find Rector to be unlikable, just realistic. It was nice getting to see more of Seattle and th ...more
Jeremy Preacher
Oct 24, 2012 Jeremy Preacher rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
I was a little nervous about this book. I have liked every Clockwork Century better than the one before it, largely because I enjoy the expanding scope of the story, and returning to the literal bubble of Seattle wasn't all that appealing. But I was pleased to find it an excellent, tight adventure with engaging characters that very much reflected the larger picture, even though it stayed within the microcosm of Seattle. I am still dying for some of the major mysteries to be resolved - they very ...more
Catherine Siemann
Mar 21, 2016 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it
The return to Seattle definitely added to the appeal of the latest entry in Priest's Clockwork Century series. While Rector Sherman was a less appealing main character than the others in the series, the overall arc seemed more advanced, and the return of a number of favorite characters was welcome. Less actually happened than might have been expected, but overall, Mercy's observations about sap and the Blight seem to suggest something on a larger scale is forthcoming.

*On rereading, the pieces fa
Holden Attradies
Aug 22, 2014 Holden Attradies rated it really liked it
the first proper return to Seattle in the series since boneshaker! I really liked the return, and I REALLY liked finding out what become of Rector. She, he was hard to like, but by the end of the book he was someone that MAYBE might be a decent guy. But in a way the book wasn't about him, it was about Seattle.

I'm not sure why, but this book felt the shortest of them all. Maybe because I listened to the rest as audiobooks at least once (there isn't one for this that I know of), or maybe it was th
Sep 26, 2015 Thomas rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I can't get over how good these books are. Priest has an ear for dialogue and a good understanding of human behavior; she builds up compelling, intriguing plots full of action and adventure; she creates vivid scenes and characters. On top of that, she creates a series that's ostensibly steampunk, but is actually an alternate history series instead. There's so much to like here, it's no surprise that I'm tearing through these books like I'm addicted.

With The Inexplicables, Priest falters some. Th
Jul 05, 2015 Samrat rated it it was amazing
I'm so consistently pleased with Cherie Priest's books. Despite the big gap, I remember enough of the previous novels to figure out the allusions and recall the characterizations but I get the sense that this would stand alone, as would any other of the Clockwork Century books. I really enjoy the way the author centers each book with a new POV, as past protagonists fill the supporting cast.

So specific to this book: The inexplicables were fun, though not prominent. I like this further exploration
Jenny GB
Nov 28, 2015 Jenny GB rated it liked it
We return the series to Seattle to follow up with Zeke's friend, Rector. Rector believes he sent Zeke to his death and is haunted by his 'ghost'. Rector is also addicted to sap and close to turning. He finds a way into the downtown zone and finds Zeke is definitely alive and well. However, there are problems in Seattle. The zombies are disappearing and there's an inexplicable animal on the loose in the downtown. Rector and his friends investigate to find out what's going on and how to stop the c ...more
Benjamin Kahn
Nov 23, 2015 Benjamin Kahn rated it it was ok
Very disappointing, as I really enjoyed all the other books I've read in this series (Boneshaker, Dreadnought and Ganymede. By comparison, this one was a little dull, and read kind of like a Boys' Own Advenure story than a fully-realized contribution to the Clockwork Century universe. "See these quick-witted lads capture a sasquatch, and solve the mystery of the hole in the wall!" The characters weren't as compelling as in the other novels (despite the fact that all the previous protagonists app ...more
Jul 31, 2014 Lissibith rated it liked it
Shelves: novel, sci-fi
Oh, The Inexplicables. Where do I begin?

I wanted to like this. While there were hits and misses in the other Clockwork Century books I've read, I've always enjoyed them. Usually I had trouble putting them down. But this one juust didn't do it for me.

The Inexplicables is about Rector, a teenaged orphan and occasional sap (drug) user haunted by his conviction that he got his friend killed in the zombie-infested walls of Seattle. So the night before he turns 18 and gets kicked out of the orphanage,
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CHERIE PRIEST is the author of over a dozen novels, including the steampunk pulp adventures The Inexplicables, Ganymede, Dreadnought, Clementine, and Boneshaker. Boneshaker was nominated for both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award; it was a PNBA Award winner, and winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Cherie also wrote Bloodshot and Hellbent from Bantam Spectra; Fathom and the ...more
More about Cherie Priest...

Other Books in the Series

The Clockwork Century (6 books)
  • Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)
  • Dreadnought (The Clockwork Century, #2)
  • Ganymede (The Clockwork Century, #3)
  • Fiddlehead (The Clockwork Century, #5)
  • Jacaranda (The Clockwork Century, #6)

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