Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Not sure where I first heard about this book, I think I read a review of her second book @ Stomping on Yeti (I think it was there), and (assuming it was a ‘traditional’ series) I decided to get the first one. (Having read this one and the blurbs on the back of the others I think that while they are all set in the same world and some characters are in other stories, they seem to be standalone novels, although I could be wrong?)
Edit to add: I have been corrected, they are linked via some characters so while not a series in the ‘traditional’ fantasy sense (ie GRRM or something) they are a series. 🙂
Boneshaker is a steampunk novel set in Seattle 1879 on an alternative Earth where the American Civil war is still happening and the gold rush has caused Seattles population to swell and then disaster strikes, a a giant drill machine goes berserk destroying much of the downtown area releasing the blight gas. 16 years later what remains is a walled off area of Seattle slowly filling up with blight gas that turns people to zombies if they breath it. What follows is a rescue mission as a mother ventures into the ‘wasteland’ to rescue her son, who’s on a quest all of his own.
Oh and there are also airship pirates. 🙂 Click below to read more:
The story alternates between the perspectives of Briar Wilks and her son Ezekial.
Briar is a strong character, she knows what she wants and she sticks to her guns. She is afraid and uncertain at times, but she puts on a brave face and is able to keep calm under pressure, even when being chased by hordes of fast moving zombies. She’s fiercy protective of her son, and is a fairly nice person although she isn’t an increadibly warm, and she is bit standoffish at times. It never seems to get too much in the way though, and I think that’s what helps get her through everything.
Ezekial or Zeke, impressed me less, although that might be because he did come across as bit of a silly teenager. When Briar is speaking of him to others she mentions that he is quite savvy, and I guess he was to an extent, maybe I’m just used to books that are full of paranoid people. There were a few points where he was simply too trusting of some people, and there is one bit where you simply one to shake him, just a little, although he comes good in the end.
The action in the story is faced paced and keeps moving, there was never anything that felt it was holding things up and slowing the story down. You kept learning about the Blight, about how people could survive in it, who were the ‘bad guys’ the ‘good’ etc. (It sort of breaks down like that but not quite.) And bits and pieces of Briar’s backstory, which is quite central to the whole escapade.
There are a fair few steampunk gadgets in it and I have to say that when Jeramiah Swakhammer turns up, all I could think of was a Brotherhood of Steel Paladin (Clearly I have played to much Fallout!) but it seemed to fit so well. He’s not wearing a powersuit, but he is encased in metal, and roaming around a Blight zone (wasteland) with Zombies (or ghouls) toting fancy weaponry to fight them. He’s practical, down to earth and all round nice guy.
My one complaint with this book however is the ending. There are a fair few things that are left unresolved, and as this isn’t a series I don’t know whether certain questions I have will be answered in other books. I suppose it’s left open for the reader to draw their own conclusions, to maybe one day do another book leading on from some of the events, and I can deal with most things like this, except when there’s: uncertainty over whether a character is alive or dead.. Yes I know its a zombie story but still!! (highlight to see spoiler)
Also I’m not quite sure on Zeke’s reaction to certain things found out at the end, on the one hand it does sort of work considering all they’ve been through on the other.. well I’m sure it would mess up his world view a fair bit and there isn’t much time spent on that. Although I guess as this book is an action romp not about characters digging deep into themselves and soul-searching then that is somewhat to be expected, he’s still young! So if you look at it that way its fine. 🙂
All in all I feel this is an enjoyable romp through a zombie infested waste land, and I must confess this is the first zombie book I’ve ever read. And I am well aware that zombies are simply the back drop to humans fucking up and getting themselves killed, so there are quite a lot of very worrying moments when the zombies turn up (especially FAST zombies) and you aren’t quite sure whether people are going to make it or not, you can hope, but you know you can’t be certain not till you’ve finished the book.