Review: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Read: May 1 – May 4, 2012
Other Information: Library book, paperback, 416 pages, book club/personal read

Book Blurb: In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just below it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenage boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

My Opinion: This book. It almost defies description. Steampunk zombie extravaganza? OK! Count me in! And that is what kept me going through the whole thing. The promise of a really interesting story.

Unfortunately, the story fell flat. It had so much promise, and by the end of the book I just felt so deflated and cheated. Not to mention that nothing really happens for the first couple hundred pages anyways. It is cleverly written to disguise that fact, but really… nothing is happening. A lot of walking around Seattle and meeting new people. But barring a few glaring exceptions, nothing really integral to the story.

The characters were likeable enough. I really enjoyed that Briar was tough, and not prone to swooning over anyone with muscles. Zeke, for all his mother fussed, seemed like an average fifteen year old. We don’t really see his resourcefulness kick in, and she talks about how grown up he is while he is calling her “Momma”.

I made some predictions about the book. Only one of them was right. And it wasn’t even a really interesting one.

The writing style made it really hard for me to get into this book. I found it to be very choppy and inconsistent. For example, I don’t have any issues with graphic gore… but in all the encounters with the rotters, Priest didn’t choose to describe fending them off in gory detail until the end. She trended towards the typical Steampunk writing style, but even that was inconsistent. I also found that a lot of times the book lacked excitement to keep pulling me forward. The timing is very confusing and hard to follow, especially near the end.

The Bottom Line: A promising story that didn’t deliver. I am not sure how it will work as a series, especially with the way Priest chose to end the book. I am not against reading the rest of the books, but I am not rushing out to grab them either.

My Rating: 2 stars (It was only OK)


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