15 January 2013
Dreadnought by Cherie Priest [book review]
Book 3 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 Dreadnought on Goodreads
After months of waiting for the UK release, and my sheer enjoyment of Boneshaker, I was chomping at the bit to read through Priest's follow up. Maybe my expectations were a little too high, though.
As with Boneshaker, Priest manages to create a strong female lead who is believable. Mercy Lynch springs to action when it is required of her, but she also becomes weary of the burdens placed on her throughout her journey. Her strength and her resolve rub off onto those around her; a strength that becomes sorely needed by the end.
I loved the expanded steampunk universe, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the host of zepplins, steam powered automatons and the like outside of the walled city of Seattle. It was also interesting to see the slow introduction of diesel-powered machinery, emphasising the organic and evolving nature of her world. The steampunk elements weren't as much a focal point as Boneshaker, and this was slightly disappointing. I really wish Priest had done more with the steam powered giant automaton, who only featured in a single scene.
The pacing was what tripped Dreadnought up for me. It must just be my aversion to journey based narratives (the reason why I can never fully get into The Lord of the Rings) and I felt this one plodded along without a great deal happening for large chunks of the book. An exciting beginning, a break-neck showdown, and not a great deal in the middle to connect the two. The intrigue could have been amped up more to make up for the lack of action, which would have done well to keep the readers' attention.
I enjoyed the inclusion of elements and characters from Boneshaker in this story to connect the dots in the expanded world (which has dire consequences for Mercy and her companions aboard the Dreadnought). The subplot of the missing Mexicans and the downed zepplin was a nice touch to maintain the suspense from an element of Boneshaker (which might have been continued in Clementine, I'm not sure). The appearance of characters from the first novel was also a nice touch to add a level of familiarity to the story.
Dreadnought maintains much of what made Boneshaker such a great read, but doesn't quite hit the same mark. With a plodding pace for much of the novel, the well written characters have little to do in a superb alternate universe. I'd still recommend it, but to readers with longer attention spans who are fans of journey based narratives.