Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Boneshaker (Clockwork Century, #1)

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)Author: Cherie Priest
Series: Clockwork Century, #1
Published: November 6th 2012
Publisher: Tor UK
Paperback, 416 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

Is there anything a mother wouldn’t do to save her son? Even if they are mostly estranged and angry at each other? Would she willingly walk into a place where the air is poisonous and hundreds of zombies roam about?

Of course she would. I would, too.

That’s the choice Briar is forced to make, and it really isn’t a choice at all. Sixteen years ago, Seattle was destroyed by one of her late husband’s inventions, and she became an outcast, a poor, single mother with no one to rely on. From that point on, Briar and her son were lucky when they could cross the street without someone spitting on them for something neither of them played any part in.
Briar’s son Zeke is only sixteen and he’s desperate to clear his father’s name, not knowing that his father really is guilty of turning Seattle into a poisonous prison. And there is no doubt in Briar’s mind, her late husband poisoned the air, flattened the city and created rotters, the zombies. But every boy wants his father to be perfect, so Zeke runs away from home to go to Seattle and prove his father’s innocence.

As much as I enjoyed the (too few) steampunk elements in Boneshaker, what I found most intriguing was the complexity of Briar’s relationship with her teenage son Zeke. I normally dislike situations that stem from lack of communication between characters, but in Boneshaker, their reasons for not sharing secrets with each other were so painful and real that I couldn’t blame Cherie Priest for deciding to write it exactly like that. It is what made these characters truly alive, as if they didn’t exist until they were around each other or thinking about each other. Despite the alternate history setting and a  few fantastic inventions, despite the zombies and everything else that was exciting, Briar and Zeke were what really kept me on the edge of my seat. When it comes to character bulding, Cherie Priest is the best psychologist I’ve come across since Ann Aguirre, which is saying something, my friends.

But it appears that everything good comes at a price, and excellent characterization was very pricey indeed. In terms of steampunk, Boneshaker leaves a lot to be desired. I realize I’m very nitpicky when it comes to this sub-genre, but if authors won’t use the endless possibilities it provides, I see no point in writing it at all. The steampunk bits did not blow me away like they did in Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and I expected more from Priest language-wise, to be honest. Still, keep in mind that Boneshaker won the 2010 Locus Award for Science-Fiction, so this is probably just me being unreasonable and difficult. I get like that sometimes, just ask my siblings. :)

Although Boneshaker didn’t leave me completely satisfied, I am intrigued and eager to read the next book in this series.


  1. "When it comes to character bulding, Cherie Priest is the best psychologist I’ve come across since Ann Aguirre, which is saying something, my friends."

    That is definitely saying something Maja, as I am a HUGE fan of all Ann's characters - she just writes them so brilliantly. I definitely need to give this book a try just to meet Briar and Zeke:) Hopefully now that I know not to expect too much from the steampunk aspect, it won't bother me at all. Gorgeous review!

  2. I don't really read many books in this genre but Boneshaker sounds promising. I'm glad you enjoyed the book!
    Great review :)
    World of Books

  3. I wouldn't know steampunk if it bit me in the butt. But the other elements to this story intrigued me: the complex mother and son relationship and the son's eagerness to prove the world wrong. Also, ZOMBIES! How could it go wrong?

    Adding this to my pile. Thanks, Maja! :)

  4. I'm not a huge fan of steam-punk but that's probably because I haven't come across any good ones. This seems to be no different. I'm intrigued by the relationship between the mother and the son though. It sounds like it's really well-written.
    I'm sorry to hear that the steam-punk elements were not fully explored!
    Great honest review, Maja! :)

  5. I heard awesome things about this book, but it's the zombies not the steampunk that has me worried. I'm still curious enough about the characters to give this one a try. I just may need to take some breaks when the scary parts come. :)

  6. You unreasonable and difficult?!! I refuse to believe that. Characterization is the most important thing is a story to me, so maybe this would appeal to me more than you. The premise sounds interesting. Wonderful review Maja.

    Btw, I'm listening to Magic Bites on my commute! You're turning me into a part time UF queen, Maja! You and Keertana that is. :)

  7. Hah I'm usually described as unreasonable, difficult and anti social by my sisters Maja! I think lately my expectations have gone really high too! (I hardly ever rate books 5 stars anymore) But a three star review is still great!, and this book does sound like it has the potential to provide an interesting read! :)

  8. I'm sorry this one didn't completely satisfy you, Maja, but this book sounds so cool. It has a lot of elements that I love, so I'm going to add it to my reading list based on your awesome review!

  9. So funny that you feel this way, because, actually, I liked the steampunkery and world building well enough, but the characters left me completely cold. I have yet to read a Priest character that came alive for me.

  10. I'm sorry this book didn't meet your steampunk expectations. When a book has good characterization and plot I can get past a lot. I'm glad you enjoyed it enough to feel you'll progress with the series though and I hope book 2 will be more to your tastes. Great review hun :)

  11. US copy has been in my tbr pile since, well forever. LOL What a great review, I really love Steampunk and the world building sounds wonderful.

  12. I enjoy the thought of steampunk-themed books, but very few have actually left an impression one me. In fact, I can't actually recall a single one right now. I'm glad to hear the characterisation in this book is brilliant though. Maybe if I focus on that when going in instead of the world, it will still impress me. Lovely review, Maja!

  13. Aww, it's a shame that the steampunk elements weren't fully incorporated to their potential in this one! :/ I love steampunk, but only when done right, which makes the number of steampunk novels I've liked fit on one hand very easily. Still, I'm glad to hear about such strong character development. I feel as if I may not relate as well to the protagonist, simply because of the huge age gap, but I'm curious enough to give this a shot. I hope the sequel is even better - I can't wait to see what you think of it and can only hope that the steampunk elements are more prominent and varied in it since that would definitely make this novel an even better read. Wonderful review, Maja! :)

  14. I hadn't heard of this until now, Maja, but I like the cover and the relationship between Briar and Zeke sounds like something I would love to read about.

    And comparing Cherie to Ann is high praise indeed! Wonderful review

  15. This is not my kind of book, but I always love reading your reviews :D I just love the cover.


  16. :) I'm glad you are very particular in what you like. I love the steampunk elements in the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfield, you should check it out, he leaves NOTHING out in terms of world building steampunk style!

    Terrific review Maja!!!!!! I always love the way you write! Briar and Zeke sound like fantastic characters. And i agree protecting the truth is the right choice for Briar. Thanks for introducing me to this book!

  17. I know exactly what you're talking about, Maja! However as it was essentially a wild wild west story, I felt that the lack of steampunk mechanisms was justified by the extreme poverty of the people. Plus this is an example of early steampunk, so I reckon the genre was still trying to find its footing. Overall I really enjoyed Boneshaker because of its excellent characterization and atmospheric setting. Thanks for a fantastic review!

  18. It sounds like this book has a lot going for it! The characterization sounds absolutely fantastic, and characters are usually the most important part of a book to me. Briar and Zeke's relationship with one another sounds really complex, and like something I'd like to read about. I'm so sorry the steampunk aspect fell flat for you, though. Nonetheless, excellent review, Maja!

  19. Well, I like the idea of this book. I don't really read any Steampunk, it's just that i don't come across them that much. Although, i hate it when authors don't use the whole possibility of the genre they are writing in, So i hope the author will do better in the next installment of the series.
    GREAT review, Maja!
    Your constant reader,

  20. You got to your Boneshaker before I got to mine! Honestly, the lack of steampunk elements is a fairly big turn off for me. I'm like you, I'm nit picky about that subgenre, and I get really annoyed when it's not really utilized and just kind of half-assed. I didn't realize this was a zombie book too, though! Jury's still out for me on this one, maybe I'll see what you think of the next book first.

  21. I am a HUGE steampunk fan and I wasn't actually disappointed in the steampunk in this one (at least there's airships and stuff, though that's more in the next book) but I did read way back in my early days of reading steampunk so I'm not sure I'd feel the same way today. I really loved this book but I actually didn't love the second one as much. Maybe you will though because if I remember correctly, it seems like there may have been a bit more steampunk aspects. I really need to get busy and continue the series!


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