“To call the scene a disaster does it a terrific disservice. The final death toll was never fully calculated, for heaven only knew how many bodies might lie wedged in the rubble. And alas, there was no time for excavation.” – Hale Quarter
I stuck this one into my to-read pile because someone recommended it as a steampunk novel that didn’t fall prey to that kind of historic, whitewashed nostalgia that a lot of steampunk falls prey to. And it doesn’t. Yes, it’s definitely part of the genre, there are strange clockwork machines, Victorian-era clothing, and alternate history shenanigans, but it has a diverse, compelling cast and it can’t be bothered with stuffy manners or colonialist BS.
But the reccer failed to mention (or I forgot in the interim, it’s been a while) that there would be zombies. Yes, my friends, this is a steampunk novel with ZOMBIES. It took two ridiculous (and ridiculously awesome) genres and mashed them together and, wow, does it deliver.
It’s the peanut butter and jelly of genre novels. It’s delicious.
Boneshaker is the tale of a son on a quest to exonerate his father and a mother on a quest to save her dumbass son. It takes place in an America and a Seattle that aren’t at all like the ones we remember from our history books–Seattle was ravaged by a dangerous experiment gone wrong and the survivors are still struggling to pick up the pieces while America is locked in a decades long Civil War with no end in sight.
Priest has created a living, breathing alternate reality that pulls you right into its grasp. It also doesn’t suffer fools kindly, whether they’re character or reader. Hands aren’t held, there’s no unwieldy exposition or unnecessary description; Priest’s focus is laser-pointed at her characters and their story but in telling their story she reveals a fully-realized backdrop. There’s a whole world out there that’s only seen in details, but you can tell that it’s as lush and fully-realized as the small corner she reveals here.
This story has it all–a diverse cast of compelling, complicated characters; rich, detailed world-building, and zombies.
Did I mention the zombies? Because, man, were they an unexpected delight.
There are a few weaknesses, especially in the slapdash rush to the book’s climax. After all of the set-up, all of the creeping build, the main villain’s ending felt a little pat. And the final resolution between the characters was a little too easy.
But these are things I can easily forgive. Because there are so many things I still want to know, characters I still want to understand, a world I still want to explore. Priest pulled me into this strange, fascinating world and I’m here to stay.
I definitely recommend Boneshaker and I can’t wait to be sucked into the next book in the series.