colleen the convivial curmudgeon's Reviews > Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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's review
Mar 14, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: steampunk, dark-fantasy
Read from March 14 to 19, 2010


Steampunk and zombies and mini-apocalypse, oh my. How could you go wrong?

For starters, you could have lead characters that I never really connected with or cared that much about. Protagonists whose most active role was to get themselves into the city, and then who became fortunes of fate, as things happened to them.

I did like some of the secondary characters better, especially Swakhammer. (Though it seemed weird to me that Briar called calling him Mr. Swakhammer. It was probably meant to be an affectation to remind us of the time period, when men and women were more formal, but since these characters are so informal, it was just kind of weird. Just another layer of distance in a book which keeps you at yours...

I think, really, that's what it is. The characters are never really developed - it's more an actiony-adventure type story, which could be fine, except it seemed like it almost wanted to be a deeper, more thoughtful story at times, it just never quite managed to be so.

Oh, and the brown font on the off-white paper killed me at first, but I did mostly get used to it.

Anyway, I never felt truly frightened or saddened for these characters and their exploits, though I did sometimes feel annoyed that they seemed so ingrateful for the help people were giving them (Briar), and that they kept running off and getting themselves in trouble without finding out what was going on first (Zeke). And I never really connected with them, so didn't much care.

And the whole thing with the big bad was meh. And I don't just mean the anti-climactic end, I mean everything about it. The build-up, the reveal, everything. There's something which happens at the end which Briar is said not to care about because her focus is on something else. Well, I didn't care, either.

Wow - do you think I could say "I didn't care" any more?

The only thing I did sort of care about is the fate of Swahkhammer, which we're left not knowing. I read somewhere that this is the first of a planned trilogy, but I doubt I'll continue unless I hear really good things about the follow-up.

All that said, I do agree with one reviewer who said that this story could make a good movie, though. Visually it would be pretty awesome, and you can get away with less develoepd characters and more haphazard happenings in movies.
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Reading Progress

03/14/2010 page 0
03/16/2010 page 151
36.3% "Whosever idea it was to use a brownish font on off-white/yellowish paper should be shot. Other than that, the story's ok so far..."
03/18/2010 page 294
70.67% "I'm sort of counting down the pages at this point. *sighs*"
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by Libby (new) - added it

Libby Helpful review - I've been looking at this one but will bump it down the list in favor of more exciting prospects

Justin I couldn't agree with this review more. Your take, unlike this book, is a pitch perfect sounding of a thoroughly meh novel. I wish I'd come to good reads before picking up this book. Thanks.

Becca I too am counting down the pages until the end. There have been times where I found myself falling asleep.

message 4: by Marcus (last edited Dec 15, 2010 10:41AM) (new)

Marcus Nice review. I selected this book after reading several positive reviews and halfway through wondered what was wrong with me, why was I having such a hard time getting into it...glad to see I'm not the only one. I think Priest's writing is pretty good but her plot just drags. It never built up any steam (pardon the pun).

colleen the convivial curmudgeon Thanks. And good pun. ;)

Elizabeth Dawson I'm so glad to find I wasn't the only one who thought all the secondary characters were so much more intereseting and that the main characters could have died off early, for all we cared about them.

Steve H It just goes to show what a wild and different taste we all have. I hope you are all sitting down when I say..I really enjoyed this book and will certainly be grabbing the others in the series too ... I like to be different :)

Spencer Agreed. Wholeheartedly.

Fernando Hugo Well, thanks, I was starting to believe I was just too demanding as a reader. Agreed on everything. A good premise, a very disappointing development.

message 10: by Brooks (new)

Brooks Not arguing with the review, I haven't read the book yet. However, why do people feel they need to "connect" with characters? That isn't what characters are for. A "lead protagonist" can be completely immoral, that doesn't mean they are a bad character. As long as they have consistent development and character schemes, a character may have any moral compass the author wishes them to have. Hah, I'm not sure if this book is consistent with that, I don't even know if I'll read it. I just don't understand why people feel the need to connect with every character from every story. I enjoy experiencing what they go through without a personal connection.

Spencer Christian wrote: "Not arguing with the review, I haven't read the book yet. However, why do people feel they need to "connect" with characters? That isn't what characters are for. A "lead protagonist" can be complet..."

"Connect" ≠ "Like." It means to identify with. A reader needs to be able to be able to feel like they can understand a character's motivations, good or bad, in order to stay interested in them. Characters should be complex and interesting, not shallow cyphers that exist only to facilitate a plot point or realize an author's fantasy.

message 12: by Brooks (new)

Brooks In most cases, when one uses the term "connect to a character," it means they want to have the same ideals. I've read certain statements online that literally say; "A protagonist must be morally identifiable, otherwise, what's the point of writing a story?" I suppose that just bothers me to an extreme extent. However, I do agree with your reply. As I said, a character must be consistently developed, they don't exist to progress the plot. As far as a character being interesting goes, that is more so left to one's own personal opinion. I misunderstood your use of the word "connect." I usually don't see it to describe the development of a character. Thank you for clearing this up for me.

Laura Lee This review matches my sentiments about this book exactly. It drives me crazy to see characters so underdeveloped and handled so carelessly by the author. By the end I didn't care, either.

message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Yep, I have to agree. I just didn't care very much. The story really never got going.

Portugalthedan I care enough about it to finish but I have had the hardest time caring about it. The world is interesting, but the characters fall flat for me. Briar is kindof a bitch unnecessarily. I want to read the series because I really enjoy the setting but this book makes it hard to care to put a rush on it.

colleen the convivial curmudgeon Somehow I missed the whole discussion about connection with characters, but as Spencer said, "Connect" ≠ "Like."

I need to give a fuck about the characters as actual people, or else the story is just hollow to me. I don't have to necessarily like them, and they certainly don't need to be morally like me - I have connected with and found truly fascinating characters that I would detest as people. (Mr. Norrell from Strange & Norrell is the first example that comes to mine. He was a horrid person, and I would hate him as a person, but I found him to be a fascinating character and was interested in reading about him.)

But, then, he was also a developed character, so I think Spencer hit the nail on the head with his comment.

message 17: by Holley (new) - added it

Holley I'm so glad I found this review. I've been struggling with this book since January, and I've read a few others in between. I just don't care about any of these characters. I love the setting and some of the secondary characters, but I find the mother and son completely underwhelming.

Marlowe It took me almost a month to finish this book because I kept putting it down to do stuff and had no particular drive to pick it up again. As you say, I was just never given a reason to care about the characters. Which sucked all the more because I *should* have connected. Like Briar, I'm a mother, I have a son, I should have connected with her immediately. Not only that, but I found the setting so interesting - if only the characters (main and side) had more to them than a single "cool idea" (Swakhammer's outfit, Lucy's lack of arms, Briar's history, Angeline's history, etc.).

By all rights, I should have loved this book. I'm really bummed that I didn't.

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