Books I Read: Boneshaker

Title: Boneshaker
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: Science Fiction (Steampunk)
Published: 2009
Content Rating: R for violence*

Seattle, 1863. Inventor Leviticus Blue tests a powerful drilling machine, nicknamed the Boneshaker. In the process, he destroys several city blocks and releases a poisonous gas called the Blight, which kills, and often reanimates, anyone who breathes it. Soon the entire city is destroyed.

Sixteen years later. A giant wall has been erected to contain the Blight and the ever-hungry rotters it has created. Blue's widow, Briar Wilkes, lives outside, struggling against poverty and her husband's reputation. When Briar's boy goes behind the wall to try and clear his father's name, Briar is the only one who can save him. She must face her past as well as the Blight when she finds something worse than rotters behind the wall.

I worried this would be a horror book -- and it is, but only a little. This is an adventure story, and to that end it does very well. I got annoyed with the main characters at first; I felt they did dumb things or were too stubborn or (in the case of the teenage son) just talked too much. But it didn't ruin the action for me, and a lot of Briar's stubbornness was even explained in the end. Overall, Boneshaker was a lot of fun to read. If you like steampunk, zombies, or even airships (which play a big part too), I'd recommend it.

And for the record, I would totally play an RPG set in this world.

UPDATE: Looks like Boneshaker was just nominated for a Nebula Award.

* Content ratings based on what I think a movie might be rated, if the things shown in the book were shown in the movie. Ratings are very subjective, and I don't always remember/notice things. If you're unsure whether the book is right for you, do some research so you can make your own decision.


Asea said...

I'm not much into zombies, but I am intrigued by steampunk. Do you have a recommendation for what I should look for on my semi-annual book-acquisition trip next month? It doesn't have to be "the seminal work of the steampunk genre," but I'd like to read something that gives me a good feel for what these stories are and is an enjoyable read. Since I have to keep waiting for your stories, what should I look for in the meantime?

Adam Heine said...

Matt Delman has a decent list here (the first two on the list are sort of "seminal works" in the genre). There's a couple of suggestions in the comments too. Another one I can think of is Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's Steampunk anthology.

And I LOVE that you're waiting for my stories. It gives me all kinds of happy, warm feelings. Thank you for making my day!

Asea said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I will see what Finland has to offer in the way of steampunk. :-)

I am absolutely waiting for your books!