Sixteen-year-old Col Porpentine is being groomed as the next Commander of Worldshaker, a juggernaut where elite families live on the upper decks while the Filthies toil below, but when he meets Riff, a Filthy girl on the run, he discovers how ignorant he is of his home and its residents.
This steampunk sci fi novel delivers a hefty dose of satire, particularly of British aristocracy. Third person narration. World building is elaborately detailed and satisfying. Exciting and fast-paced plot that pits the corrupt and degenerate aristocracy against the rebel slaves whose sweat powers the giant ship, Worldshaker. A biting satire of British aristocracy and Victorian mores. Themes of oppression, class struggle and class privilege, industrialization gone amuk, tradition becoming meaningless.
Characters: Main characters Col and Riff are appealing and it is fun to see gender stereotypes upended by having Riff be the “kickass” heroine. Col just kind of follows her lead, although he risks being disowned by his inbred, aristocratic society. The aristocrats are lampooned and their characters are similar to a Dickensian exaggerated parody. Names are also Dickensian: Porpentine Prounce, Gibber.
Plot: Good action, but ending kind of ran out of steam. Gee, what’s going to happen now kind of ending.
Mixed reviews: Some liked the character parody, some didn’t. I thought it worked.