7 December 2012

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest [book review]

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Book 1 of The Clockwork Century
Published by Tor Books
Paperback - 416 pages
Published November 2012
Review copy given to me by the publisher


Read the synopsis for Boneshaker on Goodreads

It'll come as no surprise that I've been lusting after the Clockwork Century novels for a good while, so it was with much excitement that I tore into Boneshaker, and I was not disappointed.


Priest has a knack for writing strong female protagonists without creating a cardboard cutout that has no depth. Briar Wilke's determination to find her son takes her into some pretty intense situations yet she's able to keep her cool, albeit waveringly, while she trudges on through the ruins of the old city. That's not to say that Priest neglects the male members of her cast; Jeremiah Swakhammer is a powerhouse of a man who acts with honour, even if it means risking his life in the process. He believes that there’s a better way to live and isn’t afraid to stick his neck out for the cause. I couldn’t really connect with Zeke all that much and I found myself wanting to read more of Briar’s side of the story whenever Zeke turned up.

The two things that drew me to Boneshaker were the zombies and the steampunk setting, and I found both of these elements to be extremely enjoyable. The zombies, or ‘rotters’ as they’re called, are victims of the dreaded Blight gas that was released when the Boneshaker destroyed the underground of the city. They help to ramp up the tension during the quieter scenes, but they aren’t just thrown into the mix for the hell of it. I really got a kick out of the alternate Civil War era Seattle, complete with gas masks and brass goggles, zeppelins and wacky machines like Dr. Minnericht’s Doozy Dazer, a kind of sonic launcher that knocks down rotters for a few minutes. The walled-in city has a very Fallout-esque feel to it; a poison-sky, decaying buildings and danger around every corner.

One of the things I loved about Priest’s writing is her dialogue, which is snappy and the interaction between characters is fluid. Briar’s initial interaction with Captain Cly on the zeppelins in particular shows this. This also continues with the twisted and corrupt Dr. Minnericht, who I couldn’t help but read in the voice of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. It’s mostly the mask, but also the dark and borderline insane intellect behind it.

Boneshaker is a fantastic read and a terrific introduction to steampunk; the streets beneath the poisoned city are teeming with interesting characters struggling to survive in a well-crafted world. Priest’s Clockwork Century is off to one hell of a start and I can’t wait for more.

24 comments:

  1. I've seen the books many times but never started the series. Definitely want to now! Yes, you had me at the word "Fallout."

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    1. You should give it a shot, it's pretty awesome.

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  2. No, "Boneshaker" in my opinion is boring, a lot of interesting novel. World of book look like as a copy second "Resident Evil" without horror elements. And interactions? I do not think so...

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    1. Shame you didn't it like it, Fenrir. I really liked Priest's version of the zombies as being a background threat. Resident Evil's warped mutations didn't do it for me.

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    2. In Poland reviewers gived "Boneshaker" bad marks... For example, in my opinion, Cherie Priest doesn't know how she should build tension. And her heroes are stupid - boy war running to enclave without equipment. This isn't a credible scenario.

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  3. Sound good to me!! Going on my Amazon wishlist as we speak (write?!).
    Thank you Jamie :-) xxx

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    1. You're welcome, Rose.

      Fingers crossed I'll be doing a giveaway for it pretty soon :)

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  4. I'll have to have a "loan" of this of you. just after i finish reading "the Dwarves".

    good Review

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    1. The one by Heitz? Good luck with that one, it's massive! How was The Return Man in the end?

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  5. Boneshaker was my first experience with Cherie Priest and I was not disappointed. I got sucked right in and really enjoyed the world she created. I felt equally as pleased with Dreadnought. I actually started Ganymede not long ago since the new one just came out and that seems to be my M.O.: read the last one I bought right when it came out after buying the latest one, lol!

    I've read several reactions like Fenrir's too. It seems that it can be a divisive novel as far as people connecting with it. I don't get it personally as I just eased right into it.

    I've signed up in email to get your blog posts but for some reason am not getting them. Not going to spam either. Hmmmm... Glad I checked Twitter.

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    1. I'm glad that Dreadnought is just as good :)

      Hmm, try subscribing by email again (the feed changed when I changed the subtitle of the blog). If it still doesn't work I'll have to see if it's a problem with my feedburner.

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  6. I'm halfway through reading this one and am thoroughly enjoying it. Gotta love zombies ;) And you are spot on about the dialogue and the strong female characters.

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  7. Sounds like another book to add to the list...thanks, Jamie :)

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  8. I love stories of mother's doing whatever needs done to save their children. Another book added to my list.

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    1. Definitely give it a shot - it's great!

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  9. This book has been on my TBR for a long time. Sounds like a really good read!

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  10. There aren't a whole lot of steampunk novels that I can sink my reading teeth into. This one sounds like I can chew on it and it'll bite back :-) Yeah!

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    1. Priest is the Queen of Steampunk, so defintely give this one a read.

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  11. I'm not really a big zombie fan for some reason. But I love anything steampunk. So whilst I really want to read this book, I'm unsure whether I'll enjoy it or not... The world building sounds good too :)

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  12. I've told you this before, but I definitely loved this book. I still need to read Priest's other books (my to-read list is sooo long!) but I am quite fond of this one, and the fact that I know the author's name and have looked up information about her and her writing suggests a certain level of appreciation.

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