Carol. [All cynic, all the time]'s Reviews > Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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Jul 13, 13

bookshelves: sci-fi, fantasy, awards, nebula, my-library, female-lead, hugo, male-lead, zombies
Read from June 25 to July 11, 2012



Started off slow, but I fully realize that was a miscalibration with the story compatibility recognizer. I don't really do the mother-hen story line, and I often get the urge to slap headstrong teenage boys. I started this on vacation in NYC, and we just weren't getting along. Plus, NYC is all busy and distracting and such. Once home, I picked it back up and had a little better luck, but soon got distracted with shinier books life. Finally opened it again today and finished the last 250 or so pages, proving at least one of two things: 1) that I am a ridiculous procrastinator that would do anything other than class homework, and 2) Priest can pull it together; it just takes awhile.

Story alternates between the viewpoint of Ezekiel, a young teen, and that of his mother, Briar Wilkes, a hard-working widow. She was married to an inventor, Leviticus Blue, who built a machine that was supposed to impress the Russians with it's gold-mining skill. Except before the debut, things go a little haywire and a bank or two is robbed instead, and a mysterious low-lying gas released into the local atmosphere. Perhaps it was connected to the machine, perhaps it wasn't. Blue disappeared, and the gas turned everyone it touched into "rotters," otherwise known as coffee-deprived Seattleans zombies. The rest of the world walled Seattle off and did their best to forget about it, except for two things: they still hate Briar, as a stand-in for Blue; and the yellow gas can be distilled into a drug (of course the new drug comes through Seattle. Don't they always? ). Zeke decides to find out the truth. Mama hen chases him down with the intention of making him safe, and perhaps, telling him the truth.

Positives: characterization that is fairly multi-culti without making it an issue and doesn't treat females like a bunch of sex objects (cough, cough, Brent Weeks), but instead like people trying to live how they know, and be as tough as they need to to survive. Side characters were particularly interesting and unique, and I rather liked they they didn't always 'group up' and stay together for the rest of the quest search. I'm particularly fond of the Indian Princess who was oracle-like in her advice, and mysterious enough that Zeke wasn't sure if she was going to knife him or save him.

Criticisms: Blah, airships. I suppose they are useful for getting characters in and out of walled cities. Personally, I find them to be the steampunk equivalent of the modern car chase, and usually use the time to go fix get a drink. Blah fifteen year old boys, who are at once brave, naive, selfish, defiant, clever and obtuse.

Of all the characters, the villain was a bit of a trope. Build-up was scary; actuality was a bit like Paul Reubens in the original Buffy. I also could have passed on the conceit of the weird dude in the beginning approaching Briar about writing a biography. Not sure where it got the story, except some navel-gazingness. Might have incited the kid to leave, but then again, it might not have. Oh wait, I get it. It was a way to introduce backstory. Ok, I'll scratch that as a complaint. Annoyed me at the end, however.

Speaking of the end, it was a strange mix-up of unfinished and happily ever after (oh stop, that didn't give anything away). Quite a few unanswered questions. While part of me likes to have everything explained, it just isn't possible in a book of this length; I was left with intriguing questions about the Blight, about the Civil War, and about the people in Seattle.

Overall, a middling book that I'm glad I read. Judging by the way reviews run the star gamut, it might be worth checking out for yourself. And I still can't decide if Priest pulled it together or I'm a successful horrible procrastinator.


Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways If one more goddam book uses flying cars or antigravity or airships as windowdressing, I will NOT be held accountable for my actions.

Nice review!


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Thanks, Richard!

Ah, for the good old days when antigravity was the only crutch--I'm with you on the airships. I think it's an attempt to work pirates into the story, but--blah, pirates.


message 3: by Shamus (last edited Jul 14, 2012 10:46PM) (new)

Shamus McCarty Ya, that’s the bad thing about any genre fiction. It tends to grasp onto clichés created by the genre.

The result is, this book wasn’t “insert genre fiction stereotype” enough!
Or
This book was to “insert genre fiction stereotype” cliché!

Not to mention the fact steampunk has evolved into thinly disguised YA Paranormal Romance somehow. (Thanks Twilight for ruining fiction.)

I had planned on checking this book out, until this reviewer said, “the last 250 pages.” I don’t have the attention span to last any more then 250 pages, but I’m from the MTV Generation though…


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Carol wrote: "Thanks, Richard!

Ah, for the good old days when antigravity was the only crutch--I'm with you on the airships. I think it's an attempt to work pirates into the story, but--blah, pirates."


OMG another one. Sick sick sick of pirates. Call 'em bandidos and see how fast the same characters call down the wrath of the establishment.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Etienne wrote: "Ya, that’s the bad thing about any genre fiction. It tends to grasp onto clichés created by the genre.

The result is, this book wasn’t “insert genre fiction stereotype” enough!
Or
This book was t..."


Good point, EG. And no one should need to slog through 250 paceless pages to get to a good bit. It's sloppy writing.


message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily Love the Paul Reubens reference. Best death scene ever.


message 7: by Mike (new)

Mike “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well". -Mark Twain

Darned good review. I would say you are a most successful procrastinator. *grin* Now, the question is will you continue the series? I've been eyeing it for ages, as well as Priest's earlier work before turning to steam punk.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Excellent review.


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Emily wrote: "Love the Paul Reubens reference. Best death scene ever."

Seriously. I laughed so hard during that scene.


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Mike wrote: "“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well". -Mark Twain
Now, the question is will you continue the series? I've been eyeing it for ages, as well as Priest's earlier work before turning to steam punk."


I doubt it. Steamppunk and I have sort of genre incompatibility. I'll wait until enthusiasm strikes.

Thanks for the quote! ;)


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Genesis wrote: "Excellent review."

Thanks, Genesis! Long time no see :)


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

True. I've been buried in books at the store AND went to Texas on vacation.
Fear not, I'm always spying on you. ;)


message 13: by Krycek (new) - added it

Krycek Hmmm, I think I recall seeing this on the shelf at my local library. Being a NWterner myself, I guess I've have to read it now. Oh, great review, by the way!


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Genesis wrote: "True. I've been buried in books at the store AND went to Texas on vacation.
Fear not, I'm always spying on you. ;)"


Excellent. I think. ;)


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Krycek wrote: "Hmmm, I think I recall seeing this on the shelf at my local library. Being a NWterner myself, I guess I've have to read it now. Oh, great review, by the way!"

Thanks, Krycek! Did the Seattle digs amuse you?


message 16: by Krycek (new) - added it

Krycek Carol wrote: "Thanks, Krycek! Did the Seattle digs amuse you?"

Haha, yes. Without the digs we'd be just a bunch of coffee-swilling, pot-smoking hipsters who take our ironicism wayyyy to seriously :)


message 17: by Mimi (new) - added it

Mimi You've convinced me to give this book a chance. The cover and blurb look very YA, and that's why I kept putting it off for the longest time.


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Mimi wrote: "You've convinced me to give this book a chance. The cover and blurb look very YA, and that's why I kept putting it off for the longest time."

No, no, that's not what I meant to do at all! I meant for you to make up your own mind based on what everyone else says. I can see why people hate it, and I can see why people love it.

Oh well, as long as you don't hold me responsible if you hate it, unless I get to say, "I said that in my review!"


message 19: by Mimi (last edited Jul 16, 2013 07:44AM) (new) - added it

Mimi That's kind of your fault, Carol. Your reviews always make me want to read the books, despite star ratings and/or disclaimers. j/k ;)

I haven't read much Steampunk (that doesn't read like YA) and just thought I'd try this book since... well, because airships and zombies.

No blaming, I promise.


Jeffrey Keeten One of the most disappointing books I've read in a long time. I just could not get into it. I finished it, but it was a form of Chinese torture. There are lots of glowing reviews so maybe I wasn't the target audience.


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Jeffrey wrote: "One of the most disappointing books I've read in a long time. I just could not get into it. I finished it, but it was a form of Chinese torture. There are lots of glowing reviews so maybe I wasn't ..."

It definitely is one of those books that there is no consensus. In retrospect, for me I think the issues were character (specifically the boy's) and pacing.


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