This is a good sign for my 2013 reading habits. A full review to come, but this book made me extremely happy and Eleanor Fitt, I think,...moreSigh, Daniel...
This is a good sign for my 2013 reading habits. A full review to come, but this book made me extremely happy and Eleanor Fitt, I think, has landed herself on my list of favorite YA heroines. She's like Alexia Terrabotti without the werewolf fetish.(less)
This book had so many great elements, though it did take a bit to get going and there was some lag here and there. The added appendix with the real li...moreThis book had so many great elements, though it did take a bit to get going and there was some lag here and there. The added appendix with the real life character equivalent explanations tied it all together very nicely though.
Lady Mechanika is a badass who happens to have mechanical arms and legs, demo...moreReview of issues #0-2, read the entire review at Working for the Mandroid
Lady Mechanika is a badass who happens to have mechanical arms and legs, demon-ish red eyes and more gadgets and weapons than any one person should need. She doesn’t remember who created her or where she came from, just that she woke up in a basement surrounded by dead bodies and random limbs some undisclosed amount of time in the past. She now spends her time searching for other mechanical things that might be able to lead her to answers about her past and also rescue mechs in danger of being hunted by the crazy redneck British guys who don’t like mechanicals.
In these three issues we get mostly set up. Lady Mechanika is independent and self-reliant, but has a working relationship with Mr. Lewis, an inventor who supplies her with handy gadgets and might have a tad bit of a crush on her. He’s also a drunk, but whatevs. By the end of #2, our heroine is facing three different bad guys – Lord Blackpool, a scientist who would like to take Mechanika apart, Commander Winter, the leader of Blackpool’s soldiers, and the yet to be really seen Mr. Cain, who might be using black magic to do very evil things. A vast and important history is hinted at between Commander Winter and Lady Mechanika and a previous short encounter with Lord Blackpool make up the events of #0.
In this small amount of pages, it’s hard to really create characters, but Benitez at least gives you an idea who all the players are and glimpses of who they might eventually become. There are hints to a much bigger world with much odder creations. This is only scratching the surface of what a wondrous world Benitez has the potential to create. I hope he’s able to realize even a portion of that potential.
Storytelling-wise, it’s nothing really new. There are some basic conflicts, people trying to kill other people, Lady Mechanika trying to swoop in and save the day. Then again, you have to consider that in the first three issues, there are only about 50-60 pages of story. That’s not a lot of room for much plot. Lady Mechanika is a private investigator that, so far, only takes cases that might tie back into her own lost history. It’s hard to get very original in such a short time period with that setup.
The dialogue in #0 hit me as very cliché and full of as many British phrases Benitez (who is American) could think up. He dials it down a little by the time to official story begins, but the overall lessons – of being different, accepting yourself, repressed memories – are nothing new and he’s not addressing them in any new way. But then again, that’s not really the point with this book, is it?(less)
The best thing about Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series – and there are many wonderful things abou...moreRead the full review at Working for the Mandroid
The best thing about Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series – and there are many wonderful things about this series – is her domineering leading lady. Even on the occasions when she needs to be rescued, she never backs down and still usually remains a thorn in her enemy’s side until everything returns to her liking. When facing entrapment within a burning warehouse district, only Alexia would think to bust a street lamp and use her parasol to hit a burning coal into a warehouse full of fireworks to alert people of her plight. She is always finding herself in the most ridiculous, unladylike of situations, and she always comes out on top. Alexia Maccon is my hero.
One of Carriger’s best skills, other than her world building and her fantastically colorful characters, is her ability to turn a phrase. With a slight tweak to the vocabulary, a somewhat innocuous common day saying turns into something giggle worthy. Made up words seem real in the context of her world. Describing a werewolf who can’t control his changing as suffering from “premature transfluctuation” showcases her clever word play and her ability to plug in a nonsense word and it make sense, as though transfluctuation is a word you often hear in conversation.
This incredibly stylized form of writing might be an acquired taste, but I find Carriger a clever story teller, using her third person narration to fill in the world she’s created. She is able to explore the thoughts and feelings of Alexia without the limited and often indulgent use of first person narration. Her use of language is a mix of modern and Victorian that allows the story to have the classic feel needed for the time period it’s set in while not ever becoming stuffy like a lot of actual Victorian novels.
From beginning to end, it’s ridiculous. The plot is ridiculous. The characters are ridiculous. But that’s what makes it so much fun. The image of two Victorian dandies tossing an eight month pregnant woman from balcony to balcony is funny. Knowing that, in the end, this waddling, tired, mother-to-be will save the day while almost always irritating her husband is part of the charm. And in the end, Carriger still managed to surprise me. I love when I can’t exactly predict the ending and I love what she chose to do with Alexia’s baby. That should make the fifth and final book even more intriguing. (less)
I think of the first three, Blameless is my least favorite story, but my favorite cover and it is still a delightfully entertaining read. In it Alexia...moreI think of the first three, Blameless is my least favorite story, but my favorite cover and it is still a delightfully entertaining read. In it Alexia is abandoned by her husband and her family due to her unprecedented pregnancy, so she goes on a trip to find proof that Lord Maccon is in fact the father of her child or, worse case, how her child came to exist if he isn't. This takes her through mainland Europe while constantly being pursued by those pesky vampires, who wish both Alexia and her unborn child dead.
Because most of this novel takes place on the road, it loses a lot of the charm the setting of Victorian England lends to the previous novels as well as lacking some of our usual secondary characters, such as Lord Akeldama (who always makes a story that much more fabulous), Ivy, and Professor Lyall (who is featured, but not in exchanges with Alexia). Instead we get the Templars in Italy, who introduce Alexia to pesto (a multi-purpose weapon!) and who have previously run an experimental breeding program with previous soulless.
It’s the little details that Carriger comes up with that make me love these books. There’s an attack of mechanical ladybugs sent by the vampires to destroy Alexia. She and her traveling companions must make a daring escape in a flying contraption that’s half helicopter, half deathtrap. Her loyal butler Floote never leaves her side and protects her in only the way a man who has watched her grow up could. Meanwhile Lord Maccon is getting progressively more drunk on formaldehyde, not realizing he put his wife and child into horrible danger, while Professor Lyall tries to hold everything together.
The writing remains clever and irreverent. Alexia continues to be one of my favorite recent female protagonists, taking situations in stride and remaining strong and confident even when everything is working against her. It’s obviously one of those books where everything is meant to end up okay, but it doesn’t matter. The sense of humor and fun that carry the plot of the first two novels continues as Alexia’s life becomes even more complicated.(less)
In Changeless, the focus moves from squarely on Alexia to the werewolf pack she has married into and the mysterious “illness” that has caused some sup...moreIn Changeless, the focus moves from squarely on Alexia to the werewolf pack she has married into and the mysterious “illness” that has caused some supernatural creatures to become human again. Because she is soulless and has the power to cause the same effect, Alexia is of course the perfect person to figure this whole mystery out. In her search for her suddenly missing husband, she ends up in his homeland of Scotland where his former pack seems to be facing a potentially pack-threatening disaster. And, of course, even stuck in the uncivilized country of Scotland, Alexia is an entertaining character with funny observations and witty repartee with everyone around her. It should get annoying, but for some reason, it just doesn’t. It’s the magic of Gail Carriger.
A large chunk of volume two takes place on a dirigible with an oddball group of characters that really shouldn’t be traveling together. Someone is, of course, still attempting to poison/maim/kill Alexia due to her soulless condition, and she keeps managing to avoid being poisoned/maimed/killed. The witty banter and twist on Victorian literature that made the first novel so much fun continues and expands to a wider set of supporting characters. Best friend Ivy still has her hideously ugly hats, but has also perhaps found love with a budding actor (and potential future werewolf). Alexia’s sister somehow ends up in the midst of things also and remains delightfully annoying and full of herself.
Carriger’s storytelling is lightning fast, but at the same time, she puts in minute details that become important later on. It’s clever story telling that most paranormal romance novels just don’t seem to have with the added benefit of fun gadgets, cagey supporting characters and a delightfully strange mystery. It ends on a cliffhanger that had my sister-in-law on the verge of buying the third book to read on her iPhone because I didn’t have my copy on me when she finished.(less)
This is perfect steampunk gateway territory. It’s a fast-paced, brilliantly crafted story combining st...moreRead the full review at Working for the Mandroid
This is perfect steampunk gateway territory. It’s a fast-paced, brilliantly crafted story combining steampunk with elements of fantasy in an alternate version of World War I. Archduke Franz Ferdinand has a son, Alek, that can’t be legitimately acknowledged as heir to the Austrian throne because of his mother’s common bloodline. Deryn is a Scottish girl who wants to be in the British navy, so she becomes Dylan and joins up as a young recruit. Neither can really be who they want to be, so they fake it and are awesome the entire way.
I have a huge girl crush on Deryn, which is awkward because she’s 15. She spends the entire book pretending to be a boy and manages to show up all the other young British soldiers from the moment she shows up. She’s fearless, intuitive and adventuresome. She is everything a young female protagonist should be in my books. From the moment she first appears, I liked her and when she found herself loose in a flying jelly fish contraption high above England without much of a care in the world, she became one of my favorite female characters possibly ever.
Then there’s Alek, who is a bit flaky at the beginning because he’s been raised as royalty despite his common bloodline and is suddenly whisked away from his life by people he can’t figure out are friend or foe. Once he manages to get his feet beneath him again, figuratively speaking, he’s equally engaging – determined, selfless and very much his own person though young and previously sheltered. When Alek and Deryn finally end up at the same place, sparks don’t fly. I mean, Alek thinks Deryn is a boy, and yet I can’t help but want them to be best friends for all of time, knowing that they belong together.
Despite being alternate history, World War I starts in a similar manner – the Germans use the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand as an excuse to start a war that spreads quickly through Austria, Hungary, and Russia before spilling over into England, France and further. Leviathan only covers that first month after the assassination when it was still mostly the Germans picking fights with everyone.(less)
A spinster with no soul with the power to turn supernatural beings into humans again gets tied up in a plot that finds rogue vampires and werewolves d...moreA spinster with no soul with the power to turn supernatural beings into humans again gets tied up in a plot that finds rogue vampires and werewolves disappearing.
I was sold on this book the moment I read that she fought supernatural beings with a brass umbrella. Yes, Alexia is a total Mary Sue, good at everything, loved and/or adored by all the men that she spends any considerable time with,and more knowledgeable and clever that everyone else. Despite that and the addition of a grumpy Alpha werewolf that seemed like the male lead in just about any bad romance novel, I really enjoyed this book. It was light, fun fluff that made me giggle and smile even just thinking about it between readings. There were no big surprises or twists, but that's okay. It was still a fun read.
Gail Carriger is a great world builder, setting the tone of the universe very early on and adding details that made the world even more believable. I'm looking forward to the sequel for another fun romp through this universe with these characters.(less)