So I reviewed the first book in this series, Boneshaker, here. And I confess to being in a little bit of a panic after reading it as the life of a character I quite liked hung in the balance. I did not realise at the time that Dreadnought did (sort of) follow on from Boneshaker, the blurb on the back while descriptive doesn’t actually give anything away. I was relieved when I realised it was going to resolve that situation.
The story follows nurse Mercy Lynch, as she makes her way across the US in order to see her father one last time before he dies. It’s a very eventful journey, as she has to pass through the lines of the continuing civil war. And then, once on the Dreadnought, a heavily armoured train built by the North, she has to contend with spies and factions that are trying to prevent the train from reaching its destination and thus preventing her from seeing her father.
As soon as I picked up this book I couldn’t put it down (I couldn’t put Boneshaker down either), I read it all in two sessions over the weekend. Priest has a fantastic writing style The action is fast paced but is broken up in a way that allows both the main character and the reader to have a quick breath and reflect on what’s just happened. The clues to the whole messy situation are dropped throughout the book, so there’s no big info dump, and the reader learns everything as Mercy learns it. Actually if you’ve read Boneshaker first then you’ll put several things together before Mercy is able to. I had a lot of ‘Oh God’ moments as I realised just how bad things were/could get. Especially when you find out what certain people are up to, and even though that situation is dealt with you know what people are like, you just know that someone somewhere at some point will try to do it again. (Bad idea, very very very bad idea! >_<)
The story builds a lot on the alternative history that Priest created in Boneshaker. Filling out the insanity that is the never ending civil war, and showing just how little people in the East know about what’s going on in the West. It also brings with it more steampunky goodness (as if the title Dreadnought doesn’t clue you in).
I didn’t find this book quite as tense as Boneshaker, but I think that may be more due to locations. Mercy isn’t trying to stumble through tight gas filled streets with fast running zombies like Briar is. As soon as I started reading I was content to follow Mercy through the story. She is calm under pressure, able to take charge where necessary and smart. I never questioned a decision she made and there wasn’t a moment where I was raging at the sheer stupidity of anything she did. I merely willed her on. Everything she does fits with her character. It’s nice to read a book where for once I can agree with all the decisions the main character makes. (I had a similar feeling with Briar as well.)
The only jarring thing I had was that my knowledge of American geography is not that great, it’s somewhat vague. And yes, sure I could have looked things up on Google Maps, but I was reading. The story was more important!
I have to say I’m quite glad that I decided to read this in two long sittings over the weekend and not on the way to work on the tube.
1) Because the book is awesome and I would have had to stop way to many times.
2) And this is totally a me thing, but I am not good with gore. Now with the main character being a nurse she has to stitch quite a few people up over the course of the book. And actually in a way it’s not that gory, compared with how some writers like to describe things. But I would like to point out that I am absolutely pathetic when it comes to gore, especially recently. I very nearly fainted on the tube a few months ago from reading one book (Vision pretty much went, and legs were barely holding me up, I had to get off the tube and wait for the next one to get some fresh air, felt off for the whole day.) it wasn’t quite that gory, but I couldn’t deal with main character trying to ignore her injury and it didn’t help that the tube was also very stuffy. So yeah, if you’re like me, make sure you’re curled up in bed/on the sofa reading it.
3) Did I mention the book is really hard to put down?
Well worth reading and I’m glad I have Ganymede on the shelf ready to read. 🙂