Monday, January 11, 2010

Girl on Book Action: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

by Cherie Priest
ISBN: 9780765318411

From the back cover:

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 beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.


My Thoughts:

When I decided that I would write a review for this book, I sat down and tried really hard to come up with some negative things to say about it, because I felt that in order to be properly critical I had to have something negative to say. And when it comes down to it there were some minor things that I did not enjoy, and I’ll get to those in a moment, but I have to say that overall, this book was simply good fun. I enjoyed reading it immensely and not just because it has zeppelins, air-pirates, zombies and gas-masks, although all those things combined played a large part in my enjoyment, I really can’t deny that.

So let me get my few gripes out of the way so I can get back to talking about how much I like this book. Really, the only thing that let me down was the story surrounding the main villain. I don’t want to get into too much detail for fear of spoiling the book, but the way that Briar acts and the ultimate outcome of this conflict just didn’t do it for me. I would have preferred a little more mystery or some sort of unforeseen plot-twist, and by unforeseen I really mean unforeseen. So yes, the plot surrounding Briar and the villain was really a letdown for me in an otherwise wonderfully imaginative book.

Now that the griping is done with I will return to my adoration of this book. I found that the pacing was great and kept me turning pages way past my bedtime. It was a quick, enjoyable read. Cherie Priest does a great job of creating atmosphere throughout and there were parts that made me feel claustrophobic and panicked and my heart was pounding as I read, which I have to admit doesn’t happen as often as it should when I’m sitting down with a book on a dreary winter day. I was also completely smitten with the re-imagining of history and the detail of the world created in the process. The novel felt well-researched and carefully thought-out, and I never once sat back and said to myself “You know, I don’t think that’s possible even in an alternate history.” Complete suspension of disbelief: achieved.

Lastly, this book is an aesthetic treat: the cover is gorgeous and the book is printed in a sepia tone rather than a straight up black and white tone. So personally I would suggest that even if you don’t want to read it you should go find it at a bookstore and look at it and peek in at the pages, but I have a bit of a book fetish, maybe that idea just creeps you out.

I’d have to say that out of the books I read in 2009, Boneshaker rates second only to Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Red Tree for me, although the two can hardly be compared. They just stand out as really great works of fiction each in their own way.

The final word is that if you want to read something amazingly fun, I highly recommend Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, I mean, how can you go wrong with zombies, gas-masks and air-pirates?


  1. I may just have to read this one.