Becky's Reviews > Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine
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's review
Mar 17, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: hilarity, rainy-day-light-but-enjoyable, scifi
Read from March 17 to April 03, 2012

One of the books I have since downgraded since I read it, because when I recall it, I cant only think of the characters flaws that made me angry.

This was my first steam punk book. I was not purposely avoiding the genre, kind of like urban fantasy (until Dresden), I just had not come across any that looked particularly appealing. Quite honestly, I may have passed over this but it was on sale on Kindle, and I thought “why not?”

I’m glad I did. It was certainly entertaining, and a decent read. I have no doubt that lovers of the genre will enjoy it. For me, I had fun, but I was not enchanted with the world of steampunk. I certainly appreciate the imagination that goes into it, and I enjoy the steampunk qualities of this book, but I’m not so charmed that I’d want to explore the genre further. How many times can you read about a steam powered jukebox and still enjoy it? I will give the author props; there was the perfect amount of technological description. They were long enough to paint a picture, yet not so long that they overtook the book. It was just right.

As for the characters, I enjoyed them. I never became overly attached. Eliza Braun actually annoyed me. Here she is constantly reminding the reader what a great agent she is, but she is sloppy, overly dramatic, rash, takes it all too personally, the idea ‘covert’ is utterly lost on her. There is a time and place for grand, explosive action. It’s not everywhere about London though. As someone who has been in the military, I can readily say that I would NOT want Eliza Braun at my side. Maybe in a combat zone, but not while entering the combat zone. I’d want her to show up as soon as I started getting shot at, but I wouldn’t want her charging in headlong alerting the enemy to my presence, etc. On top of that, she constantly thinks that she is better than Brooks, but she is the one constantly giving away her true feelings with “sharp intakes of breath” and constant gestures to Brooks while they’re undercover. In the end, she is not that great.

I feel much more sympathetic with Books. I work in a library now, it is MY library, even if it isn’t really. I just didn’t feel that his character was flushed out enough. Constantly shrouded in mystery, but not evolved or revealed enough at the end for me to feel connected to him. The reader needs to be let in on a few more of his secrets.

In the end it’s a great book for a rainy day, brain vacation, or something a little different. It stays interesting, alternately witty and grim, bordering on disturbing, just enough to keep you entertained. I have to admit that I absolutely love the carriage chase scene. The action is all very well played out. The plot was intriguing. My aforementioned issues in no way stopped me from enjoying this book.
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Reading Progress

31.0% "This is my first Steampunk novel. I have to admit that I am really enjoying it, but I don't know if I will ever branch out into the genre again. I'm sure the novelty of a steam powered jukebox just wears out after the first go."
96.0% "Ugh, 4% more and I cant figure how to sneak around at work to finish it. Lol"
06/02/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Seth Swanson I have this on my too read list, but I've been into Steampunk ever since I started reading Girl Genius. If you'd like some alternatives give The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Meyer a try. Also "Agatha H and the Airship City" by Phil and Kaja Foglio, which is the novelization of Girl Genius. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, which was my first steampunk novel. Steampunk, the civil war and zombies. Doesn't get much better.

message 2: by Andrew (new) - added it

Andrew Nice review, Becky! I recently read more steampunk books, a genre I avoided in the past. Not because I don't like, but I didn't found "the right novel". My favorites are the ones set in Victorian London, as seems to be this. I put on my tbr list, so I'll read it in future.

Seth Swanson I did get around to trying to read this a while back and ended up putting it down, mostly because it just didn't hold my attention. Maybe I'll give it another go at some point.

I do have another recommendation for steampunk, though. Soulless (Book 1 of the Parasole Protectorate) by Gail Carriger. It's a "comedy of manners" style of book in which Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts are all a part of society in London.

I love the whole series because the sense of humor is just spot on British. In the first chapter Elisabeth is attacked by a vampire at a party (How rude!), but she is also equally offended that the party in question did not have respectable snacks. Steampunk is more the setting, but a much greater emphasis is put on the characters, and the supernatural world they inhabit. There's still some gizmo's and airships, but those are more window dressing than a focus.

Becky Seth wrote: "I did get around to trying to read this a while back and ended up putting it down, mostly because it just didn't hold my attention. Maybe I'll give it another go at some point.

I do have another ..."

I like some steampunk. I hated Boneshaker but thats because I thought it was so damn boring. I loved, on the other hand, the whole Leviathan trilogy by Westerfeld! loved loved looooved. I love comedy of manners/Wodehouse style things, so I will add that to my list for sure. THanks!

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