J. Hamlet's Reviews > Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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Nov 18, 11

bookshelves: steampunk, zombies-and-such
Read from July 23 to October 20, 2011

Ahh, Boneshaker. Having read Clementine first and seeing promise in the Clockwork Century series, I'm almost glad that I did NOT start with Boneshaker as Clementine pales in comparison.

Boneshaker takes place in the same alt-history, steampunk fictional universe of Clementine, where the civil war has dragged on and on and begun to incorporate steampunk weaponry and technology. Whereas Clementine was a cross-country airship chase, Boneshaker takes place in one compelling location: a hellscape, almost post-apocalyptic version of Seattle.

The premise is insanely detailed, but it boils down to the fact that a mad scientist who was working on a powerful drill for mining in the Klondike accidentally digs too deep testing it and starts a series of earthquakes. Then comes the Blight. Out of the ground, a thick yellow gas begins to come, slowly overtaking Seattle in a fog of poison. Quickly, the Washington Territory, not a state because of the continuing civil war, stands up a huge wall around the city in an attempt to stop the advance of the Blight before it kills everyone.

The best part: the people who inhale the gas die and come back as rotters. That's right: this book features STEAMPUNK ZOMBIES. If that didn't get your attention, I don't know what will.

Aside from the STEAMPUNK ZOMBIES, the emotional core of the story is about a boy named Zeke and his mother Briar who live on the outskirts of Seattle, barely habitable and full of crushing poverty as only the most desperate people, survivors of the Blight who couldn't afford to actually leave the area, remain. Zeke believes that his father, the mad scientist who triggered the Blight catastrophe, can somehow be redeemed and proven innocent. After a long fight with his mother Briar, who tries to talk him out of it, he sneaks into Seattle in an attempt to find anything to prove his father's innocence.

Zeke quickly gets in far too over his head as he discovers a city overrun with the walking dead and full of dangerous passageways and poison gas. Briar, knowing full well that her son might be doomed, goes in after him. What ensues is a blend of adventure and horror as Briar tries to find her son through a series of near misses and dark discoveries about what is really going on in Seattle. All in all, a gripping yarn with a lot of rich and well-developed characters and an imaginative world that bends and mixes genres quite effectively.

Also: STEAMPUNK ZOMBIES. That's all.
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