boneshaker review

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read somewhere on here that "steampunk" epitomizes "genre" and I think that's cute. If so, this book may exemplify steampunk. Every paragraph clangs with heavy iron, slaps brown, oiled leather and cracked rubber, smells of coal dust and sulphur. I liked the description. By the way, I'm interested in the genre and was sensitive to how hard it must be to write "in character" like that: she does a good job. The cover too, does a good job of conveying the atmosphere.  Like Jay Lake's Mainspring, Gilliam's movie Brazil (especially), and somehow, the movie Inception, (note so self: why is that?) we're taken into a world where everything's 10x overbuilt, where things get fixed with wrench as big as your forearm.  The singular metaphor that defines this whole sort of thing is of course, "Locomotive," capitalized, because you should always capitalize that word.  It's big, magical, ineluctable, hot and smelling of heavy grease. It's impossible NOT to focus on the imagery, even now when writing a book review, eh?  But what about the book?

The book is faintly ridiculous, an adolescent cartoon. It'd make a great graphic novel except that it'll be hard to make the clothes sexy.  As a book, there are shortcomings, unless you're fifteen and believe a boy and a mother's love can take on the mob, a natural disaster and a ravening herd of zombies. This short paragraph is actually my main criticism. I am bothered almost to the point of insulte by that childish premise. Maybe it's from reading too many of my daughter's gushing teen fantasies, I don't know.

Now, back to the camp!

What's with the zombies exactly?  Thats sort of busts the genre bubble, though perhaps she works them in well enough; they do match the rest of the scenery in color, clanking and decrepitude I guess. Maybe it's just ME, because I never went for zombies in any setting. Let's face it, they're silly.

One more thing, the whole zeppelin thing is the posterchild for the need to set your reality distortion field to 11.  They're steam powered, knock over masonry buildings with a rending tear of iron and fly away from it? Those are some tough "physics" for engineers to deal with.  I've dealt with plenty of fantasy in my life, from warp drive to Will Smith's superhero "Hancock," (which was awesome) but I've never had quite the trouble suspending disbelief as I did during this book.

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  1. Well, this was a trial of posting a goodreads review in blogger. They have a link you just paste. Works great, however you could as easily go to the bookclub link. Hmm, it's pull vs push, sort of. There has to be enough push for you to know something's out there...

  2. I already hate this site. I spent 45 minutes typing something and attempted to submit and it was a terminal failure with no ability to retrieve what I had written. It is suck.

  3. Hate @ blogger or goodreads?

  4. I wonder if you meant the sign in process at the end? I always sign in with my google account. Note on fbook, you have no choice: you sign in as a prerequisite to using ANY features. This is the first of many differences, perhaps. Within this blogger tool I've discovered I have the option to allow anonymous posting, oh, and there's html, and there're

    carriage returns (see?), and even a preview button!

    So in these several ways, this comment thing seems superior to fbook.

    I like the format control, the higher quality pictures, the links I can add, the permanent text comments I can add without automatic commercial association and attribution as on fbook. These are not trivial things. They should add up to a better "feel" for the thing for all of us.

    It's not my purpose to fight & I'm not abandoning fbook, I'll definitely use it to read everybody's status, and doubtless to post my own. But I'm just not putting my heart in it: my more serious thoughts will go here. I don't think fbook suffices as a reliable archive, or (switching to metaphor) a firm enough canvas to take oil.