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Boneshaker

A Steampunk novel by Cherie Priest.

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Steampunk in Seattle

  • Feb 11, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5
Guilty pleasures -- we all have them. Once in a blue moon I crave Kraft macaroni and cheese out of a box, or a huge heaping pile of homemade mashed potatoes with chicken gravy made from fried chicken.  Or a Marie Callender's pot pie, even though they're like 600 calories and almost as many grams of fat. Well, I have them in books, too, and my favorite guilty pleasures are steampunk and pulp.  I just finished Boneshaker and it is the equivalent of hot comfort food between two covers.

my edition

 I knew when I saw this book I had to have it.  So buy it I did, and as soon as I picked it up and started reading, I fell in love.  It's so quirky that it instantly appealed. And when I was finished with it, I wanted more.  So I'm particularly grateful that there are rumors of more books set in this alternate-history world, and hopefully they'll be this good.

The author has managed to create a world that the reader can actually believe in, the mark of a good steampunk, sci-fi, or alternate history writer.  For example, to be really honest, I don't normally like books (or movies) featuring flesh-eating zombies, but here in this world it  works, because they are an after effect of the blight. They are a constant danger, and the book wouldn't be the same without them. Gas masks are essential for life in this world, and she never eases up on this point.   Priest set her novel during the time of the Civil War, complete with airships and hot-air balloons, and she has included some real people and real places so the reader feels a bit more grounded while reading the novel. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, and people spend a lot of time underground, and I never lost track that this was Seattle (one of my favorite cities), albeit some time ago. And then there's the lemon sap, the drug of choice which a lot of people are making money on. Even the book's print is unique, giving you a feel that you're reading something from that era.  And at its core, this book is really about a mom searching for her son, a storyline that is wholly believable.

The characters are also awesome; the villain of this book is one Dr. Minnericht, who tinkers with technology and holds the residents of downtown Seattle in his clutches.  One of my favorite characters is Lucy, who has a robotic arm and runs an underground saloon called Maynard's.  Then there's Swakhammer, who wears full body armor as protection against the Rotters (zombies). Even the characters you don't meet in person are great: Maynard Wilkes, for example, is a lawman who is revered both inside and outside of the gates, and there's Leviticus Blue, husband of Briar and father to Zeke  (Briar and Zeke both tell the story from their alternating points of view) , who started the whole mess in the first place.

Cherie Priest has written an outstanding book here, and I can't wait for the new additions to the series to start rolling off the presses.  Highly recommended for people who enjoy alternate history, or science fiction or steampunk.  Or, if you're like me, and you just like quirky things very much away from the norm, you'll love this one.

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More Boneshaker reviews
review by . November 10, 2009
I guess this was my first experience with the steampunk genre (not realizing it was a separate genre until I wikipedia'd), and it was a nice ride. Basically steampunk brings Jules Verne to the future he helped envision and turns him around to report on the past he might have lived--if that past included zombies, toxic chemicals, airships (in 1880) and the Civil War (yes, also in 1880--Stonewall Jackson survived and kept the South in the war a long, long time).    The Boneshaker …
review by . December 10, 2010
   Two years ago, I had never heard of Steampunk (and if pressed, I would have guessed it had something to do with music).  Three months ago, I’d heard of it, and I could even name a few books in the genre, but I still had no idea what it actually was.  Two weeks ago, I read Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and got thoroughly schooled in the matter. (NB for the uninitiated: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction/speculative fiction that is set in an era or world …
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2011
posted in SF Signal
A quick, fun read. I enjoy steampunk, but not being a zombie story fan, I liked Boneshaker a lot more than I thought I would. I'm trying to decide whether this would make a good gateway novel for certain friends.
review by . December 06, 2009
Back in the Civil War era in Seattle, before Washington was even a state, ambitious inventor Leviticus Blue created a massive tunneling engine, intended to unearth gold buried beneath the Alaskan ice. Only problem is when he first used it he undermined several city blocks and unleashed a stream of viscous, zombifying gas that eventually turned the whole of the central city into a walled-in wasteland. It also turned the young wife of the inventor, Briar Wilkes, into a pariah among hopeless people, …
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Nancy Oakes ()
Ranked #413
Hi! I'm a very avid reader and book collector and I love to cook. Aside from my family, reading and cooking are my two passions in life. I'm here on Lunch.com because I am looking for people with similar … more
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Wiki

Starred Review. Maternal love faces formidable challenges in this stellar steampunk tale. In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father's name, Zeke's mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan.(Oct.)
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Details

ISBN-10: 0765318415
ISBN-13: 978-0765318411
Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher: Tor Books

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