Archive for Steampunk
This challenge is one of my favorites, as I do love steampunk! Hosted by Bookish Ardour, this challenge is all about reading steampunk books.
The challenge has seven levels ranging from 5 to 200 books. I’m going to take it easy this time around and go with the Geared level, which is only 5 books. I have a lot of other reading goals this year, so I don’t want to pressure myself so much in individual genres.
My list so far:
- Native Star by M.K. Hobson
- The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
- Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson
- The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
- Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Check my progress all year on the sidebar or on my 2013 Challenge Index.
First impressions: Be still my beating, swooning heart! Kenneth Oppel wastes no time jumping into the action of this story, and it completely sucked me in. I so love when books do that.
Lasting impressions: Absolutely pitch perfect. Full of excitement, adventure, and mystery, this one grabs you and never lets go.
Conflicting impressions: None. Seriously.
Overall impressions: If I learned one thing from this book it’s that airships are so my thing.
Fans of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series will love this book as much as I did. Matt Cruse, our confident protagonist, is very similar to Westerfeld’s Deryn Sharp. He is so comfortable in the air he feels as if he could fly. He lost his father to a horrible airship accident. He has to take a post as a cabin boy to help pay the bills, but he also really and truly loves working on a ship. If there’s anyone who has found his place in the world, it’s Matt.
On a routine flight across the Pacific, Matt’s ship encounters an adrift hot air balloon with a few secrets contained within the pilot’s journal. On the next flight, Matt meets the pilot’s granddaughter, Kate de Vries. Kate is precocious, intelligent, stubborn, and a bit of a princess. She comes from the upper class and has a hard time taking no for an answer. Matt, as a lowly cabin boy, soon finds himself dragged into Kate’s exploits as she pursues the mysterious creatures her grandfather had discovered.
But Matt is not all passive. Part of his journey is finding his voice and learning to exploit his own capabilities in the face of hardship. Through the course of the book, Matt faces pirates (several times) and crashes and strange flying cats (oh my!), and still manages to keep his brain on straight. Younger readers will chew through this one!
If you’ve never tried steampunk, this is a superb place to start. It’s light on complicated gadgets and heavy on interesting characters and setting. Matt is brave and quick, and his story will capture your heart.
Rating: 5/5 stars
First impressions: This series was definitely designed to be read together. The action picks up shortly after the conclusion of the first book, Leviathan, and as with that book, we are quickly launched into exciting events. Westerfeld is a master at drawing you in.
Lasting impressions: I actually read the last 60 or so pages slower than any other section of the book, because I did not want it to end yet. I have so much fun in the world of this series that I get grumpy when I’m forced to stop reading.
Conflicting impressions: Sometimes Alek wavers in TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) territory. The fact that he can’t figure out Deryn is a girl is mind-boggling, especially as her feelings grow toward him. I was just glad that at least one character figured it out, but I think the total is still a bizarrely low 3 people that know or suspect her secret. Really? It’s that easy to impersonate a boy? It’s so easy for Deryn, in fact, that I no longer find that subplot filled with much tension.
Overall impressions: I thought I loved this Clanker/Darwinist world in Leviathan, but this book took it to a completely new stratospheric level. My god is Scott Westerfeld a genius! Everything about the voice, tone, action, setting, and characters pulls together into one cohesive whole that is so vibrant it is nearly cinematic. I can practically breathe in the Turkish air when the lady boffin leads a team to meet the sultan. I can hear the steam pistons firing in the giant walkers. I can smell the stale atmosphere deep in the Leviathan whale-ship’s core. I didn’t just read this book. I The-Neverending-Story-style lived it.
Deryn is still my favorite of the two protagonists, but Alek improved greatly in my esteem this time around. He was more confident and less arrogant, more careful and less reckless. He started to use his brain and consider the wants and needs of not only himself, but his people and the civilized world as well. Deryn, meanwhile, is still tough, humble, and a bit naive. They are great when they work separately, but brilliant when they work together. If only they weren’t on opposite sides of this growing war.
The politics got a bit more jumbled as the hard lines are blurred and more countries start pulling into the conflict. It’s no longer just Europe, but expanding into Asia as well. I found the Turkey setting in this one to be colorful, different, and exciting. Instead of clomping through the Alps or soaring through the skies, we see new communities and cultures and how they are affected by both the Darwinists and the Clankers. Westerfeld handles it all impeccably, and I found myself wanting to plan a trip to Turkey.
Alek and Deryn both are thrust into new levels of responsibility in this book, and we get introduced to a new beastie that should prove to be quite instrumental in the future (though I admit it was a bit of a letdown after all the book one buildup with the eggs). I loved seeing these two kids step up and experience the world in new ways. They really rose to the challenges presented to them and I look forward to seeing how they deal with what’s coming in the final chapter, Goliath, due out September 20th.
This one was full of nearly nonstop action and scheming, with a tiny hint of romance thrown in. I hope we get more than just a taste in the next one, but only because I adore these two so much and am really rooting for them. This is certainly a book that can stand on its own without the romance element, but gets an added touch of that something special when the romance comes into play.
Westerfeld is a beautifully subtle writer, never hitting us over the head with extraneous details or descriptions. Instead, his stories unfold with ever escalating urgency, perfectly timed to the events and consequences the characters face, and propelling the plot forward with just the right balance of character and plot development. Throw in the fantastical steampunk elements (which never outshine or divert from the story), and now I’m glued to the page.
I cannot recommend this series highly enough. As much as I loved the first book, Behemoth has catapulted this series to the top of my favorites list, and I promise you I will be re-reading these books for years to come.
Rating: 5/5 stars