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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Unnaturalists
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2012
One of the best steampunk novels I have ever read! I absolutely loved this one and highly recommend it! The characters were beautifully thought out and very lovable. Vespa is fierce and brave, everything you need in a heroine. The world of New London was vividly imagined. Creepy yet beautiful at the same time. The book alternated perspectives between first-person narration by Vespa, and third-person narration with Syrus. It gave two completely different perspectives and made the story twice as good. I wanted to dive into this world and never return! I find that a lot of steampunk out there is just more of the same, but The Unnaturalists was surprisingly different. Soo refreshing. You will love this one! For more of my reviews of great Amazon.com reads, check out my blog @ jessabellareads.blogspot.com
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 18, 2012
The worldbuilding in THE UNNATURALISTS is top notch. Fantastical creatures, mysterious magic, deadly consequences for those who misuse it, and an origin story that is so good it deserves it's own book. An entire society sprang up after Tesla-yes the Tesla-broke through to another world and took half of London with him. There is no way back, so New London has progressed from this point in several alternate ways from ours. The Victorian era never ended, and Steampunk/magic progressed. Science and Logic are the religion of the day with references to St. Darwin and St. Bacon. All these little details unfold beautifully and naturally throughout the book without ever resorting to dreaded info dumps.

Of the two protagonists in THE UNNATURALISTS, I only ended up connecting with Vespa, the curious and ambitious daughter of The Museum of Unnatural History curator. She had a contagious excitement about the creatures she studied and a reckless streak that got her into just enough trouble to be interesting without being foolhardy. Syrus fell a bit flat for me. He was written in 3rd person and is much younger. His life as an outcast Tinker just didn't grab me even as numerous tragedies befell him.

There is a small romance in THE UNNATURALISTS, though not between Vespa and Syrus. It didn't quite come together for me as I never fully bought into Vespa's attraction for this guy. She fell pretty quickly and repeatedly threw herself at him. I would have preferred it if Vespa had kept her hormones in check and let the potential relationship simmer. I didn't end up feeling her anxiety when various obstacles sprang up between them.

Splitting chapters between two protagonists slowed things down as ultimately only one had a compelling story. The romance also failed to entice. The real saving grace is the worldbuilding. The amazing New London and even more amazing history in THE UNNATURALISTS make it a good read for Steampunk fans. No word on a sequel, but the ending certainly leaves room for a potential series.

Sexual Content:
Kissing
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2012
I may be rather peculiar as a reader; some people read for the plot, but I get lost in the settings and the characters. In this respect, The Unnaturalists was a masterful work. The setting was unique -- an alternate, magical London. The characters were convincing and, while not perfect people, real enough that you didn't question their motives, which makes them -- in my book -- perfect characters.

The one thing I would question about this book is its target audience. While I think this was written for people in their teens, there are aspects of the plot which I think would evade some younger readers. The characters -- especially in their relationships with each other -- are very complicated, and there are many facets at work here that do not lead to a pat ending -- and, in fact, there is no "pat" ending and in the other reviews I have read, I believe that this was unsatisfying for some of the young readers. An adult reader, however, would not be disturbed by it ... I'm afraid that is all I can say without needing to tag the spoiler flag.

I look forward to reading other books by this author.(
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2012
So I had almost randomly picked up this book, wasn't to sure what to expect, although after reading it, I'm glad I picked it up. The book is very well written, the world that was built in this novel is great and very interesting. Contrary to what a particular review has stated, this "cast of characters" is not confusing at all, it's very obvious who the main players are and who the unnaturals are, I think that review was just trying to bash it on purpose. At times, Vespa can be a bit annoying, and her powers are underutilized. So why did I give it 4 stars and not 3? I gave this book 4 starts because in the end, the book was very entertaining and the problems are very minor in how the effect the story and the great world that was built.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2013
Imagine living in a world unlike any other. In this world, magic and those who know how to wield it are automatically evil and knowledge of science is essential to living. In New London, science is everything.

THE UNNATURALISTS is a truly refreshing read. Full of steampunk elements, this fantasy and science fiction novel set in an alternate historical London will capture your attention from the very first page. Everything in this world is powered by myth.While there's only a myth to describe how this power source of myth came about, it is a huge part of everyday life and is what allows some amazing steampunk inventions to exist. Myth can create everything, even unicorns to pull along the carriages for the richer families in New London. But as we learn what brought about myth, the plot will thicken and the story will spiral out of control.

Narrated in third person, THE UNNATURALISTS will switch between focusing on Vespa Nyx--the witch who dreams of being a scholarly Pedant that will forever seek knowledge of the unnaturals and Syrus Reed--the last Tinker who has a very truthful and wise view of the world despite being the tender age of thirteen. This continued narration from different perspectives is something that I truly enjoyed. Both characters were extremely different from each other, so we would often see the same characters or hear the same myths from two different perspectives. What Vespa may have grown up fearing is something that Syrus grew up worshipping. It was intriguing and added to the overall plot. Both characters were incredibly likable and I respected Vespa's desire to be herself and do what she wanted instead of conforming to the convoluted whims of the Empress and the richer families of New London.

This novel was extremely unpredictable. Right when I thought I had things figured out, Trent would throw another plot twist in my way. Plot twists are plentiful and though they are completely unexpected, they make the story flow quickly and elegantly, never tripping a reader up.

Because New London is so complex, it took me a few chapters to sort everything out in the beginning of the book. With Pedants and an evil Empress, unnatural creatures ranging from a sphinx to a sylphid, and a Creeping Waste that can destroy everything, New London is incredibly imaginative and initially slightly hard to grasp because the sheer awesomeness of it all is overwhelming. I would recommend checking out the beautiful cover and remembering that Big Ben was turned into a hulking Tower with a large chimney up top. It'll help you slip easily into the world that Trent created if you use that as a focal point.

Completely imaginative and totally unexpected, THE UNNATURALISTS will appeal to any reader of fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and steampunk. While there is the smallest glimmer of romance that plays an important role in the plot, this is not a book meant for romance lovers. This novel was an amazing start to (hopefully) a new series. While the ending thankfully was not a cliff-hanger, Trent still has me begging for more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2012
I remember the first time I saw the cover for this novel, it blew me away! It's one of those books you would buy just on the cover alone, but the summary was unlike anything I've heard of before...fantastical/mythical creatures displayed in museum. These unnatural creatures are very much alive, but are like stone statues because they're under a shield force that keeps them stationary. Hmm, where to begin? The novel wasn't what I thought it would be. The book was told from two perspectives, Syrus the Tinker and Vespa, with chapters alternating between the two. The word-building was very interesting, setting in an alternative steampunk London but there were too much information to process and at times the lack of information. I felt there were many little stories all going on at once in regards to the main plot problem and at times when the author is mentioning an unnatural creature/or background information it isn't explained thoroughly leaving the reader mystified and lost.

Vespa Nyx our heroine wants to break the traditional mold of what society thinks a Victorian lady should be, and while in the end she accomplishes that she didn't stand out in any way through the book. I never felt a connection with Vespa, she never did or said anything remarkable. Vespa is supposed to be the savior of the people and have insane magical power, but nothing showed for it. Then there's the love interest Bayne, I do not see anything appealing in his characters. His interaction with Vespa were odd, because he was always distancing himself from her or giving her the cold shoulder...it was very limited interaction. Most of the time he was trying to convince himself that he shouldn't like her; I honestly don't even remember the reason why! Syrus the Tinker was the only interesting character, with much more emotion than the other two main characters. I was more engrossed when his POV chapters came up than Vespa. The rest of the secondary characters in the books were MEH- I didn't care for them, and they weren't that memorable.

Overall this was a good book...not great but good. There were a lot of flaws, but the concept is so original, I just wish it was executed better. Why am I giving this book 3 star and not 2? It still a decent book, and like I said I love the idea of unnatural creatures being displayed in the museum, and as you read on what happens to all those disappearing unnatural creatures. While the overall book didn't blow me away like the cover, but I think other readers might enjoy it more than me. This isn't a fast paced book; everything that happens is at a general/constant speed. So, if you're expecting a climax in the story or explosive action scenes...then you might want to think twice before reading this book, its more on the slow side.

FTC disclaimer: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy (ARC) of The Unnaturalists, and in return I provide an honest review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2012
"The Unnaturalists" by, Tiffany Trent

In a world surrounded my magic but where its use is prohibited, Vespa Nyx lives a pretty ordinary life. Vespa works in a museum with her father where they store magical creatures (Elementals) that are kept in stasis. If she had it her way Vespa would never marry and would work at the museum for the rest of her life, but her father has other plans for her.
This story takes place in New London, an early London style world that is full of magic and danger. As you read you will learn about the upper-class city people and the lower-class people (Tinkers) who live on the outskirts. The Tinkers are in tune with nature and the mythical creatures that live among them. Because of this, the Tinkers are taken from their homes and enslaved in the refinery where they have no hope of escape. In New London we also meet the Archetects, a group of magic users who are trying to stop the destruction of magical creatures and bring balance to the city.
*Some of the characters
Vespa- I like how strong she is and that she doesn't cry or run away from danger. She knows what she wants and who she is.
Hal- He is very complicated and is constantly at war with himself. I liked that he is flawed but wants to do the right thing and I loved seeing him grow as the story progressed.
Syrus- He is my favorite character and has enough personality to carry his own book series. Syrus is smart, resourceful, and has a beautiful soul.
These are just a few of the wonderfully written characters that live in this captivating world. "The Unnatrualists" is a rich and detailed story that I couldn't put down. The characters are full of life and jump off the pages as you read. New London is a perfect mix of fantasy, romance, and adventure. I really hope that this is just the first book based in this world and I can't wait for what comes next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2014
As busy as I am with writing and teaching, it took me months to get to this novel. When I did, I wished I hadn't waited so long. It was simply superb. The two protagonists are entirely believable (as different as they were, I actually related to both of them quite a bit), and the plot was rich with subtexts. The whole book could be read as a multi-layered symbolic narrative about the domination of science, the loss of a sense of the sacred and magical in the world, and the creeping poisons of environmental destruction. The plot was excitingly fast-paced, the use of suspense was top-notch, and I especially loved the use of fabulous creatures I used to be fascinated with as a child: sphinxes, harpies, manticores, dryads, and other supernatural animals. Plus, as a Wiccan, I certainly enjoyed the fact that the heroine was a witch. The sequel to this novel is due out in February 2014, and I can't wait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I love the smart, intricate worldbuilding in this book. I love Vespa's fierceness. I love the lush writing and fabulous magical concepts. And I really love that this is a steampunk setting that really explores the price of its Victorian attitudes - the human cost of that famous drive toward progress (but a progress that only benefits a certain class of society). This is by far my favorite steampunk novel so far!
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on August 10, 2013
I bought this book because I was looking for a POC leading protagonist in a steampunk themed book. Let me tell you, I am very much glad I choose this as my first steampunk book. Whilst I admire the steampunk inspired sub-genre of science fiction through the small or big screen, I'm ashamed to admit, I've yet to read a steampunk book. Why? Because writers never think to put POC characters in them. Steampunk is a type of fantasy sub-genre within itself. Most argue, that the eras in which they are written are not appropriate for POC to mingle with the white folk XD Bull donkey! It's fiction, and most often alternate reality! It doesn't have to be 100% accurate! It's fiction! And now that I've ranted, on to the review.

For the Plot and storyline, I award it .75 of the point. The book exists in a alternative universe where Nicola Tesla dramatically altered put world by tearing a hole in the universe. He and Charles Darwin are what's considered the greatest minds in history, and are even types of gods in this world. The pacing is great, however at times confusing but at best brilliant. I had only found out about this book because I saw the sequel's cover feature an Asian male on the cover. Turns out I already owned the first book just never got around to reading it. It didn't rush information, so that left me always picking it back up. But word of advice, the language used will confuse most,especially those whom don't typically read steampunk inspired books. the writing and storyline proved again and again that everything you see is consistent with everything you WILL see. I don't even think I have to go there on the world building. It was nothing short of amazing. I really felt as if this "New London" was a place I could see, and "The London we do not speak of" was truly a London of the past. As far as predictability, there were some things I easily predicted. The ending not so much, but for the most part, small details I predicted, so I docked it .25 points.

As far as character development goes, the main protagonist "Vespa Nyx" was a great leading lady. I was so glad she wasn't a pushover or some girly girl waiting for a prince to save her. She was intelligent, witty, adventurous, and far from a damsel in distress. She was also a person of color(POC). Our terms don't exist to them, but she's essentially a mixed race Asian woman. I can't say that she's relatable to everyone, but as a woman whom would never expect for a man to solve all her problems, she related to me. If you're that kind of girl, you'll love Vespa =D

There were plenty of development, and the characters introductions were well balanced. I never got too sick of one character. There was also plenty of conflict. Vespa had to face many obstacles, that were not limited to figuring out how to use magic, to figuring out whether she could be with the man she liked. And she didn't want for him to make a move, she took the initiative! I definitely think this is unique compared to books that i've read, so I award one full point for character development! 1.00

As far as grammar, it had very few mistakes. Possibly due to it being a book backed by a major publishing house? It was well edited, had a good balance between dialogue and beats. The language matches the universe as well. And the POV(point of view's) switched between Vespa and the second main character Syrus Reed. It was clear to distinguish them, as hers were always in first person, and his were always in third person. So full point well earned 1.00!

As far as diversity goes Vespa and Syrus(whom I believe was full Asian) were both well written. They were both believable, and I did root for them. Syrus's entire race are based off a Baima Tibetan subgroup in a Sichuan province of China. I only wish I could tell if there were more people of color outside of the two of them and the "Tinkers"(those whom were Asian). Definitely a lot of research was involved, though it could have been more. I didn't feel the effort was forced as well.

Vespa was a woman, whom also had unique heritage. Everything about that says she should be submissive, and she wasn't. I found her empowering, especially to anyone whom feels Asian women aren't main protagonists nearly enough. Syrus was also pretty cool for a 14 year old. I look forward to see if that's him on the "The Tinker King" cover, as the guy is incredibly handsome. Overall I'd say it deserved a full point . 1.00

The miscellaneous things about the book, "The Unnaturalists" had a suitable title. Reading the book you learn an "unnaturalist" is a person whom studies "unnaturals", or mythical beasts(had some great ones to whomever is into mythology). The cover definitely matches the beauty of the heroine. I loved the cover. The names are for the most part distinguishable. Nicknames were harder to associate, and those pretending to be people they were not, also confused me. But the character names were unique enough to distinguish, but simple enough to remember. My only complaint with the MISC aspects were the descriptions of the characters. Three characters that were important, the author never described in detail. Or not enough detail to have clearer pictures of them. Her love interest I thought was Asian, until he was described as having blue eyes. To be quite honest, I kind of just said eff the blue eyes, and pictured someone Asian anyway. I didn;t picture him being Caucasian, so by the time he was introduced as such, I was a little upset he wasn't Asian. Another character was a socialite, whom I assumed due to her demanding personality was in her 40's. Turned out she was only 18. The villain? I almost always had a hard time picturing him. So it's getting docked a .25 point because I felt the descriptions could have been a bit more extensive.

Overall it's one of the best reads I've had this year.
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