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The Waking Engine

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  828 ratings  ·  190 reviews
Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.

Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they c
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  828 ratings  ·  190 reviews

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Jan 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In just a few days this book will be decorating the Fantasy/Sci-Fi shelves of many bookstores. Whoever made this cover did a terrific job of creating something gorgeous and interesting, but also matching the marvellous world-building showcased in the book. Hats off to the designer, but also to the imagination of this author.

In Waking Engine, we find ourselves confronted with the idea that death isn’t quite that final. In most cases it just means you wake up in another world. Only a few places ca
Mogsy (MMOGC)
2 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Not for the first time, I wish I had a system in place for giving two ratings to a book: 1) An objective rating in which I give a book stars based on its own merits, uninfluenced by my personal feelings, and 2) A subjective rating which is based on how a book worked for me personally, or how well it meshed with my personal tastes. This is going to be a very tough review for me to write, simply because I've never read a boo
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014, e-books
5 Stars

What an amazing ride is this novel. The Waking Engine is a high concept science fiction fantasy that will make you think about life and what it means to live and die. I wish that I had written a review as soon as I finished this one but that was two weeks ago. As is I cannot give it the due that it deserves. I can only give it my highest recommendations and to let all my friends know that I am sure that they too will enjoy this book.

"Oh, thought Cooper, with a detached nausea that brought
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

(review on my blog)

1. Plot
Cooper is not your average book protagonist. He’s gay, he’s overweight, and he’s dead. (this is where I give David Edison a respectful high five because YAY PROTAGONISTS THAT BREAK THE MOLD!) When he wakes up in the City Unspoken, with no idea of how he got there, he is immediately adopted by a grey-skinned man and a pink-haired woman, who seem to believe he is the soluti
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, fantasy, sci-fi
I was excited about reading this book based on the premise and cover art. I love science fiction and I feel like it's rare to find a non super-cheesy one.
I got the ARC (Advanced Reading Copy)of Waking Engine and dug in. But once I started I just wanted to stop. I kept asking questions out loud while reading about various courses of action or characters that were popping up with little explanation.

The book begins with Cooper, a young man from our Earth waking up in a strange land with a green s
Ruby  Tombstone Lives!
I keep finding that the more eloquent the writer of a book is, the harder it is to adequately review said book. None the less, it's worth giving this one a shot..

This is a book which somehow manages to combine: vile bloodthirsty faerie princesses, a fox-faced Anglo-Celtic nursery rhyme character, immortal prostitutes who die for a living, a brothel-keeper who also happens to be a famous historical figure, gangs of sexy death boys and charnel girls, elemental creatures bigger and older than gods,
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lot of people have asked for my thoughts on this book, so here you go freaks…

When I read a review, I like to see how the book or film matches up to other pop culture references. The Waking Engine is a mix of The Matrix (heavily influenced by The Wachowskis), Hans Christian Anderson, weirdly The City of Bones (faeries/magical creatures/urban setting), and David Bowie.

This book is hard to summarize, so I am going to keep it simple. Man dies. Man wakes up in The City Unspoken. Man finds out when
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
So, what are my final thoughts?

The Waking Engine is incredibly untraditional. It is a beautifully written book with a shocking amount of depth. While some readers might feel like the depth and philosophy behind it all can be a bit too much, readers who aren’t turned off by that are really in for a treat. Edison’s first novel is brave. He strays from the popular path, from genre tropes and common fantasies, and blazes his own trail. The Waking Engine makes you work, and that’s half the charm. The
Dark Faerie Tales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A book with very big ideas that ultimately just didn’t deliver for me.

Opening Sentence: The room was empty except for the smell of disuse and a small woman with a heart-shaped face and a cloud of flaming red hair.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This review is going to be a little different than my usual ones. Normally, I open with a bit of a synopsis of the plot of the book. I can’t really do that in this case because even after 400+ pages, I have absolu
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This was actually about a 3 and 1/2 in my view (I don't round up unless it's a stellar book.)

First and foremost, I congratulate Mr. Edison on the sheer bleeding craziness of this book, The world was like a China Mieville book on LSD (Figure that one out.) HOWEVER, the main plot was a bit bland and the sheer amount of knots the subplots tied themselves into don't keep you involved enough to keep interest. The language is stunning in spots and a touch overdone in others.

That being said, I dig imag
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A richly imaginative novel that overwhelms the reader with wondrous imagery while leaving the actual story in the dust. I still don't understand the reincarnation premise, or why any number of characters did the things they did. There is a murder mystery somewhere within that was the most interesting aspect for me, but by the end of the book it seems like a footnote. Still, I mostly enjoyed it and continued on where I might have put another book down, which says a lot about the quality of the wr ...more
A very strong and unorthodox science fiction novel. Pretty good indeed - full review closer to publication date, and it's a book that I was sold on because of the cover. 2014 is already off to a strong start and I haven't read a bad book from next year (even if I've only read three) so far. ...more
Caleb Hill
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
“'When we die, we don't cease to exist or turn into shimmering motes of ectoplasm or purple angels or anything else you may have been brought up to believe. We just...go on living. Someplace else.'”

I oftentimes feel like I can tell when a book is objectively good or not. Yes, there are personal biases and selective tastes that make this wrong, but on a general level, I like to think I know what makes a good book. The problem with The Waking Engine is not wholly that it has its flaws, but that th
Therin Knite
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
(view spoiler) ...more
Stephanie  G
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Cooper wakes up in the City Unspoken. It’s the city where the dead come to die—only no one is dying. This is why Asher and Sesstri picked Cooper up and show him around. Asher believes he can save the city because he has shamanic properties. Sesstri declares this as false and they send him on his way. Only after this does she share the fact he has a belly button, something only first birth can produce. They go to rescue him, only to discover he is neck deep in plot. There is also the Dome, inside ...more
Althea Ann
This debut novel shows Edison’s promise as an author. It’s an ambitious tale, displaying depth of imagination and an unbridled love of words.
Comparisons? I’d definitely recommend this for fans of Catherynne Valente’s ‘Palimpsest.’ At times, it also reminded me of Richard Kadrey’s ‘Butcher Bird.’ The language felt very similar to the latter books of Cecilia Dart Thornton’s Bitterbynde Trilogy – and unfortunately, mileage may vary, but to me, that’s not really a good thing. There are some lovely t
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Waking Engine is the first novel from author David Edison, I received a free copy through netgalley in return for my honest review. This urban fantasy story has an interesting premise: when we die, we go on living on a different world in a different body, but with all the memories from our first lives. The main character, Cooper, awakens one day on a new world after going to bed like normal. He’s picked up by an unlikely pair, Asher and Sesstri, who think Cooper’s appearance might be related ...more
Rae Lindenberg
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book and I have a complicated relationship. I cannot even give the whole book three stars - although parts of the book deserve it, I suppose.

First things first, this novelist is clearly new and clearly trying to impress someone - I just don't know who. The superfluous language in this novel bogs down interesting moments with unnecessary vocab words that would have even a seasoned reader and above average linguistic enthusiast reaching for a dictionary on just about every page. (1. I know I
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Waking Engine by David Edison is one of the most original sci-fi/fantasy stories I’ve read in a long time. From the intriguing premise of a city where immortals come to die, to the beautifully descriptive writing, to the full cast of very diverse characters, The Waking Engine is a book you need time and concentration to fully enjoy but you probably won’t regret it! I do need to note immediately that there is adult content in this one in terms of language (f-bombs and other offensive terms), ...more
Bryan Camp
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This book is wild. Wildly ambitious, wildly inventive, and just full on wild. It starts with the premise that death is not the end of your journey but the beginning of an existence that spans a multiverse of worlds. That's where this book *starts.* Magic is real. So is so-impossible-it-looks-like-magic-technology. Otherworldly beings, check. Undead wizards, check. Richard Nixon reincarnated in a child's body, check. A massive beast floating through a sea made of skies, carrying a city on its bac ...more
Linda Robinson
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Galloping good. The characters are rich, entwined in the story like Alouette's red ribbon. The red ribbon is a thing, along with a cacophony of other things. Cooper - poor turd Cooper - opens his eyes in not the same place he closed those peepers. And we're off. Asher, Sesstri, Nixon, Marvin, Cooper galumph through the streets of The City Unspoken. Purity, NiNi and NoNo with Bitsy, tea and pose in The Dome, wherein our wretched nobles dismember each other for perceived fashion faux pas. Undead B ...more
Nick Coster
Mar 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
I tried. I really tried to like this book. The idea had so much promise, but it felt like I had landed in the middle of a Netflix series where I had missed the first 2 seasons. Yes, there was a character that led us through the initial discoveries, but he had no discernible back story. The main characters as the mulligan was just confusing.

I couldn’t finish. I threw the book away. I NEVER throw books away.
Carrie Mansfield
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for fair review.

I almost don’t know where to begin with a book like this. Should I start with the gorgeous, almost literary-novel style of writing that invokes a dream-like trance from the get-go? Or the imagery that is gorgeous yet horrifying at the same time? Or what about the intricate world-building where the smallest details bear more signs of thought and creativity than some entire books enjoy? Or the maturity of the title that goes beyond
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
The Waking Engine by David Edison is recommended for fans of China Miéville New Crobunza series.

What is death? Cooper wakes up to find himself in the City Unspoken, the place where people truly come to die. He is shocked to discover that death isn't final. When you die you move on and awaken someplace else, another world, another city. He's told upon awakening, "When we die, we don’t cease to exist or turn into shimmering motes of ectoplasm or purple angels or anything else you may have been bro
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: didnt-finish
This was a very intriguing book, but I didn't have what it takes to finish it right now, being sick and not at the top of my game.

It's a very New Weird feeling book- China Mieville fans, take note! The reader is thrown along with the main character into a very strange city, with strange, scary inhabitants. Our main character, Cooper, is informed that he died back in New York City but that death is only the beginning. All individuals die and return on different worlds many times until they come t
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Everything people on Earth believe about death is wrong. When you die, you instead wake up in a new body on one of a million other worlds, and again, and again, some magical, some scientific, many filled with both the resurrected and people who were born to that world. Only in a few places can true death be found, when you've completed your journey. One of these is the City Unspoken, filled with gods and faeries and undead, and now, one very confused New Yorker who woke up there, and seems to be ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
While Edison has promise, his book is full of overwrought purple prose, implausible and melodramatic dialogue, and long stretches of exposition that he used to build the world. The plot's developments seem contrived. The characters are weak. And really, Edison seems to be trying too hard to impress the reader with what seems like creative depravity.

I picked up the book because I was really interested in the concept. It seemed fascinating. Unfortunately, Edison just can't pull it off yet. His pu
Dec 05, 2013 added it
Shelves: sci-fi, netgalley
Full review:

After reading The Waking Engine by David Edison, I’ve decided Edison is an absolute artist with words. I love his descriptions that eloquently describe haunting images. This is what drew me into the book. What surprised me as I read further, is that there is a touch more strangeness and over-the-topness to the characters and world than I initially expected. It made me feel like I was reading a dark literary comic book featuring the fae. If tha
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
"Cooper wakes up somewhere that isn't Earth, a place that holds the dead. In this mysterious city, he learns that people don't truly die, or at least not for a very long time, but rather keep waking up in different worlds over and over. Navigating this new place isn't easy, especially when it seems like everyone wants something. As chaos ensues among the 'living', Cooper has to figure out what his new life exactly is." Full review at Fresh Fiction: ...more
This book took way to long to finish... And for virtually no payoff at the end. The author uses words strangely and writes way too much "description" without really ever describing anything at all. He could have benefitted from an editor. The concept was great, but I really feel the book never took it to its full potential. Don't bother reading this. ...more
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