Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books)

Cherie Priest
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead. Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history. His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-11-10
I just wrote a long review for this, but it got eaten just as I was finishing. Grrr. It's been one of those days. Short version: this is a terrible book, and I only bothered to finish it due to my weird compulsion to what I start. Like a thief in the night who kicks like a mule, the prose is cliched and ridiculous, and there's none of the tight plotting or interesting setting that usually compensates for that. Not only did I not like it, I am honestly curious why anyone else would. I am further amazed that it was nominated for a Hugo Award, even if it was only out of pity.

Apparently, Priest (according to Wikipedia!) "has affirmed that with Boneshaker she sought to create a literary magnum opus for the steampunk movement, stating 'Steampunk, I think, has been hunting for that for a while.'" That Priest decided to write steampunk's magnum opus without apparently having ever heard of Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine nicely sums up everything you need to know. Boneshaker fares poorly by comparison, and is a lot closer to Wild Wild West. In case you are one of the mysterious souls who enjoyed this book, that's the Will Smith one, and not a compliment.
Reviewed: 2018-04-21
I read the third one first and I think that made this go slower because I already knew some of the action and the world. But it is a wonderful steampunk-zombie world to visit with very neat character.
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