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Agatha H and the Airship City

(Girl Genius Novels #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,434 ratings  ·  477 reviews
Adventure! Romance! Mad Science!

The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been eighteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over—and terrorizing—the hapless population with their bizarre invention
ebook, 264 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by Night Shade Books
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Ann Brookens I saw the book before I ever heard of Girl Genius. LOVED the book and then looked for anything else from the authors; found the printed comics and THE…moreI saw the book before I ever heard of Girl Genius. LOVED the book and then looked for anything else from the authors; found the printed comics and THEN discovered the webcomic! So, yeah, this book is a great place to start! I like the descriptions and thoughts revealed in the prose and think it really augments the graphic novels.(less)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Start your review of Agatha H and the Airship City (Girl Genius Novels, #1)
Agatha H. and the Airship City is based on a number of graphic novels by the same authors. And it's... okay. It's a fun adventure story, female protagonist with brains, etc. But something felt off to me -- the way her figure was constantly emphasised, the whole bit where she was in her underwear... I don't know what the context of that is, but if it worked in the comics, it didn't work here. Especially since the opening made her seem so very young, and then suddenly it's all about her being a yo ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Story: B+
Narration: A

Sometimes I like a book because the writing is evocative or a character resonates with me. Sometimes the descriptions are so eloquent I can’t help but be in awe of the writer’s skill. Sometimes there’s a breakneck current of action that sweeps me past any less-than-stellar-writing rocks. Sometimes, I come across a book that is just plain downright fun. Agatha H and the Airship City is that kind of audiobook. It is chock full of mildly amusing lines that are delivered with mo
Kat  Hooper
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Notes: This rating reflects my satisfaction with the novelization of Girl Genius. The comic itself is worth 5 stars. Artwork (used with permission) shown in the review at fantasyliterature.com.

Adventure! Romance! MAD SCIENCE!

Agatha H. and the Airship City is a novelization of the first three volumes of the Girl Genius comic created by Phil and Kaja Foglio. This beautiful comic strip, which won the 2009 and 2010 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, is ongoing
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
First things first: for the uninitiated, this is the novel version of Girl Genius, a 14 year-old webcomic with 3 Hugo wins under its belt. It's a wacky steampunk story with a visual trend towards pinup anatomy, which makes it hard to get into for some, but the story develops interestingly and is well worth the effort. If you pick up the books and find yourself wanting to know what happens next - the comic is free! Go read it!

Review-wise: I've read the comic, but the last time I was caught up was
***Dave Hill
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: text
I am a Girl Genius fan. I've been reading the comic since it started up, have most of the volumes in hardcover, and think it is da bomb.

Which is, in part, why I am disappointed in the novelization.

Robbed of Phil's imaginative and baroquely-detailed artwork, too much of the tale of Agatha Clay becomes ... well, rather unpleasant, rather than zany and humorous. Sure, the Jaegermonsters are always a hoot, and Othar and Krosp can't help but be amusing. But half the fun of GG are the myriad details t
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and the sequel, Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess (review to follow). Since it was originally a comic, there’s a strong sense of imagery to the novel. It’s very easy to picture Agatha and her world in your mind. Phil and Kaja Foglio call it a gaslamp fantasy, instead of steampunk, since biology is a technology as well as mechanics.

Agatha is a strong-minded young woman literally discovering who she is. Her family has lied to her for her entire life, and her beloved loc
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
I picked up Agatha H. and the Airship City, and tucked myself into a chair to enjoy the afternoon. Agatha H. is based off of a Hugo-winning webcomic Girl Genius, and though I haven't read the comic, I thoroughly enjoyed this version of the first three volumes and am thinking of checking out the comic as a result.

I felt a little awkward at the start of the story because even with the prologue, it felt like I was jumping into the middle and that there was history I probably should have known. But,
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is not perfect. A lot of the word choices and sentence structure are questionable. The action scenes practically induce whiplash. The love story feels rushed. I’m even going to ignore the blatant racism concerning the baron’s Jägermonsters (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be some weird combination of anthropomorphic wolves and Nazis). You know what, though? It all just works. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the world and the eccentric characters that populate it. There’s a lot o ...more
Tahlia Newland
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steampunk
Agatha H. and the Airship City is a delightful book of tongue in cheek heroism set in a Steampunk alternate reality version of Europe. Mad scientists with bizarre names, a wealth of robotic constructions and the very funny Jagermonsters populate the pages. I kept bursting into giggles as I devoured this wonderful book, which I assume is the first in what should be a very popular series.

Agatha is intelligent, likeable, creative and stands up for herself, but is also rather volitile. The other ch
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk, adult-lit
For those of you who don't know, this book is a novelisation of the webcomic Girl Genius. I was introduced to Girl Genius about a month ago, and I have been hooked ever since. I got caught up by the end of the week (neglecting some possibly important other work) and I have been frustrated at the webcomic format ever since - mostly because I can't get the rest of the story fast enough! So, when I found out there was a book, I was very excited! I wanted more of Agatha's story, and here was the cha ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Honestly, I haven’t’ had this much fun in months.

Novelizations of the webcomic, and adorable, absurd, alarming hilarity from start to finish. It’s “gaslamp fantasy” about historical not!Europe. Not about science but instead about mad science, which is a completely different thing. A classic/cliche story about a young orphans adventures on-the-run from the powers chasing her, with all the expected familial entanglements, and also about being dangerously gifted. Except told so freshly and charmin
 Danielle The Book Huntress
Very good, weird, hilarious, and sometimes creepy steampunk. Can't wait to read more of these!

Reviewed for Bitten by Books. http://bittenbybooks.com
My first book completed in 2016, finished at 1:00 a.m. It was fun to start the year with Agatha and her crazy pals, and enemies. I can't judge the book on it's merits alone though. I discovered the web comic a couple of years ago. I tried reading it on my phone, which of course wasn't ideal, it's so tiny. I was able to get the first three volumes out of the library, so that was great. That's all that the library had so I went back to the web after that but it just didn't work and I petered out s ...more
I have been looking forward to this ever since I got to interview the Foglios for Galactic Suburbia way back at Aussiecon4, when they announced they'd been given a deal with Night Shade Books for the novels.

Actually, in some ways I have been looking forward to this for even longer: I first read about Agatha Clay in Girl Genius vol 9, the Hugo-nominated (and winning!) graphic novel. I had never heard of it before I got it in the Hugo packet, and... well... it was love. Pure, sweet, love. I read t
Anniken Haga
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, steampunk
4.5/5 stars

This book is based on the popular webcomic Girl Genius and is a novelization of the story in the comic.
I've been a fan of the comic for 7 years now, but was unsure if I should pick up the books or not. I was afraid the writing wouldn't be any good, and therefor ruin the comic for me.
Turned out I had nothing to be scared about.

As a fan of the comic I already knew where the story was going in this book, but that didn't hold me back. On the other hand I think it enlightened the story
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an inventive YA steampunk adventure novel based on the Girl Genius webcomic. The beginning was great, the ending was terrific, and the middle sagged. I loved the medieval steampunk world with mechanical construct armies, insectoid zombies, mind-controlled revnants, and mad-scientist overlords. The main character was brave, independent and resourceful, but she did not feel like a real person. There were too many distracting characters, side plot tangents, and convenient interruptions whi ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
I may be biased as I've read and enjoyed the webcomic. I've heard that it doesn't translate nearly as well for those unfamiliar with the webcomic. Easily solved, go check it out!

Fun, interesting and much more fleshed out than the comic itself so I appreciated all the details that I didn't know before.
C.J. Milbrandt
Agatha's inventions never work. And then her locket's stolen, her boss's lab is raided, and her parents disappear. Dazzling world-building, a sly sense of humor, and escalating events that carry enough twists and reveals to intrigue. My, my, but it's hard to predict the actions of mad-boys! And I've grown quite fond of the Jagerkin.

I put Bk2 on order since I'm eager to see what's to come.
This felt like a parody, except I don't know what the original subject of the parody is.

I've never read the web comic that this novelization is based on, but it probably works better as a comic than a novel. Lots of jumping around, very little characterization.
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf-f-book-club
Really bad. Go read the Girl Genius comic instead, it's entertaining. There was nothing redeeming about this, except to illustrate how exactly moving one medium to another can be a complete failure. ...more
Melissa Manthorne
Jan 02, 2022 rated it did not like it
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK FOR ANY YOUNG FANTASY FANS. And don’t read this book unless your idea of “girl genius” is very young women with big boobs whose clothing mysteriously goes missing regularly.

It felt like it was written by one of the creepy male teachers who used to openly ogle me in middle school. Gross! And this is coming from someone who has read the entire Dresden Files multiple times. I can put up with a lot of casual sexism and male authors who I wouldn’t trust with a Barbie doll. This
Tony Calder
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
This is a very enjoyable, light-hearted steampunk romp. I was aware of Phil Foglio as an artist, but not as a writer - although he did have his wife as co-author.

This is pretty much classic steampunk stuff - mad scientists and crazy inventions, airships, automatons, everything that makes steampunk fun.

This is the first in a series and I believe it was based on the first two Girl Genius graphic novels.
Kristin Boldon
Jan 09, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, 2022
A good companion to the graphic novel/webcomic series, with some spots where we get a bit more backstory, which I enjoyed, and get to slow down in certain key scenes like when Gil welcomes Agatha to his lab. But, the writing is workmanlike, not deft and fast like the comic, so the result often was clunkier and less delightful than the comic, rather like the first clank of a new Spark.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A fast paced and fun read full of enjoyable characters and plenty of witty banter to go around.

The only time the book slogs is when delving into the world building exposition, which, unfortunately, is nowhere near as compelling or exciting as the characters inhabiting it.

That and when they ‘hint’ at an extremely obvious twist again.

Once the book has finally kicked into high gear and the (fully rounded) lady protagonist is ready for her adventure, it’s over.

Here’s to hoping there’s more soon.
Fantasy Review Barn

How seriously do you take a book that in no way, shape, or form takes it’s self seriously? ‘Agatha H and the Airship City’ is a novelization taken almost directly from a web comic, and it shows. How much enjoyment a reader takes from the book would depend on how capable they are of turning their brain off. Lucky for me, I can turn my brain off at will, so I enjoyed the hell out of this little steampunk yarn.

This is steampunk with all the trimmings. Alternative Europe, mechanic
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: steampunk
I was not trilled to discover that this is a retelling of the first graphic novel, now in prose form, and the question that kept popping into mind is "Why was this necessary?"

The graphic novel / webcomic is such an intensely visual experience, from the character designs to the panorama shots to the intricate Easter Eggs buried in detail-packed backgrounds that it was so hard to take the book at face value, especially since much of it is a line-by-line rendering. And reading this as an ebook on a
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, telling the same story in prose and as a graphic novel is a challenge. For every graphic novel that falls flat when retold in words alone, there's a "comic-book adaptation" of a prose novel that leaves you wincing. Since I love the Girl Genius webcomic/graphic novels, I was braced for a not-all-that-great story when I started reading this novelization. The novel was much better than I expected, but not five-star material. In the end, it's the original version's humor that doesn' ...more
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As the tagline says, "Adventure! Romance! Mad Science!" - and this book delivers in spades. It was just TONS of fun from beginning to end. It's based on the first three graphic novels in the Girl Genius series, and it has many of the strengths of those graphic novels (sharp dialogue, humour and sense of whimsy), while at the same being able to convey more of the characters' backstories and thoughts, and really revel in the world-building. Would I enjoy it so much if I weren't a fan of the graphi ...more
Audrey Jane
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
The difficult beginning aside - where it took a while to adapt to the alternating point of views -, once I hit page 50 I was hooked.

This is how I like my steampunk. The steampunk elements aren't merely incidental but rather the central part of the story. This book promises a lot of retro futuristic science, odd inventions and constructs going out of control. It's young-adult without all the familiar tropes. I recommend this series to anyone seeking a light, fun, and fast-paced read with loads o
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This delightful steampunk fantasy isn't quite as good as the graphic novel version, but still a wonderful romp in a universe where Frankenstein would be standard non-fiction reading in school.
By starting at the beginning of the Girl Genius story and retelling it in prose, this is a good jumping-on point. Readers who enjoy this may also enjoy the ongoing graphic version, or a prose version if this one sold well enough to continue.
Agatha has a moderately happy life, with a few minor exceptions. Sh
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A popular science fiction fan artist in the 1970s, Phil Foglio began writing and drawing cartoons and comics professionally in the 1980s. His work includes Magic: The Gathering, Buck Godot, and the popular series of comics and novels, Girl Genius, co-written with his wife, Kaja Foglio.

Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist (1977 and 1978)
Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story (2009, 2010, 2011)

Other books in the series

Girl Genius Novels (4 books)
  • Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess (Girl Genius Novels, #2)
  • Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle (Girl Genius Novels, #3)
  • Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg

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