Dav's Reviews > Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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Jul 17, 10

bookshelves: books-i-quit-reading
Read from June 21 to July 06, 2010

I almost stopped reading this book 20 pages in when I realized there was going to be zombies. It was bad enough that it was a steam punk novel, but OMG zombies? Um, the Bandwagon came by, and it wants its memes back. Steam punk (which is "what happens when goths discover brown") has been strangely annoying to me since it exploded a couple of years ago. Strange because I should be into it as I do dig the aesthetic, but I just can't enjoy it because it turned into such a mindless hipster thing so quickly. But zombies? Give me a break. That was something that was over before it started. There was exactly one zombie meme that didn't suck, and it was the first one I heard of, when zombies attacked SCA practitioners at some park in Montreal like 7 years ago.

But enough about me and me being a curmudgeonly hater. This book didn't totally suck. If I were a teenage boy still, I think I would have dug it. I couldn't help feeling the entire time it would have made an awesome graphic novel. But it is not an awesome book. I don't read a lot of fiction these days, and when I do it tends to be things from literary greats like DeLillo, Pynchon, Eggers, Moore, etc. The author of Boneshaker was spinning a decent yarn, but without any sign of literary skill. I was constantly thinking in the back of my mind I should just stop reading it, but finally pulled the plug this weekend when I was telling some friends about it and just could not make any justification for why I should keep reading it.

Avoid unless you're a teenagr, or really into steampunk and zombies.
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Comments (showing 1-7)




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Josh Hmm a shot at "mindless hipsters" and Eggers praise in the same review, great logic


Williwaw This is not a good sign. Not sure I'm going to make it through this book. I should have a copy tomorrow. Fortunately, I'm just borrowing it from the library.


message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa why would you knowingly read a book of a genre that you dislike?


message 4: by Dav (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dav Great literature transcends genre.


John Hupp Yeah, it's totally a genre book, but as far as genre books go it seems pretty good. It sounds like you prefer "literary fiction", which is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison here.


Williwaw So, if fiction is not "literary," does that mean it's "illiterary fiction?"

If a book is "genre book," does that mean we should apply a lower standard?

It seems to me that there's no reason to lower our standards simply because a book or story fits a particular genre. Otherwise, the genres could rightfully be dismissed out of hand.

I happen to love the science fiction genre. But I hate it when people refer to it as "that kids' stuff."


John Hupp "Genre fiction" and "literary fiction" are terms that I'll put in scare quotes because they're both conventional and contentious. (I think they are both derived from the historical structure of the publishing business.)

I wouldn't say standards for genre fiction are lower, per se, but different. People expect certain things out of certain genres—and "literary" is a genre—and judge books on their adherence to certain tropes.

I think what I meant was that Boneshaker uses lots and lots of tropes—air pirates! mad scientists! zombies!—but doesn't sink under the weight of all of them. On the other hand, it isn't exactly Thomas Pynchon. Sorry.


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