302 of 351 people found the following review helpful
Not sure what book the 5-star reviewers are reading...
, February 6, 2010
This review is from: Boneshaker (Paperback)
Now I know by giving 3 stars, many readers will ask "did you hate it?" No, I didn't hate this book, but I must say I was unimpressed by it. Steampunk designs, airships, and zombies...how can one go wrong? Well, the answer is to make the plot wandering and the characters not that interesting.
I won't offer a summary of the book, because nearly every other reviewer has done the same. I'll start by saying that the synopsis on the back cover is kind of misleading, especially about the part regarding "rewrite history." It's a shame that portion is nowhere to be found in the novel. By that token, I was expecting the characters to come to some certain uncovering of secret history, and also come to some inner realization about themselves. Sadly, they don't. Zeke's request to clear his father's name unfortunately falls into a simple tale of "overthrow the bad guy." And as the story ends, the world they inhabit isn't changed in the slightest between the beginning and the end of the story.
The characters of Briar and Zeke aren't that compelling, either. Their only purpose in the story seems to be transitioning the reader from Plot Point A to B to C--which is *part* of the reason characters exist, but it shouldn't be the main portion of who they are. Why do they do what they do? What drives them? We don't get much internal dialogue or conflict, everything they feel is spoken.
In the same vein, they don't affect change within the story at all; everything seems to happen without them doing anything or contributing to the goings-on, like they're part of the scenery as opposed to full-fledged characters. So if they don't really *do* anything except move around as per the author's directions, then are they even really empathetic at all? And as I mentioned above, if they don't have an impact on the world they inhabit, then what's the point of telling the story about them in the first place?
Then there's the Steampunk aesthetic. And I use the word "aesthetic" because that's what Steampunk is...visual. It's an interesting concept, the "retro-futuristic" vision, but I've yet to see it done effectively. I'll begin the comparison to another "punk" style, cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is more than the visual style that we see or imagine. To quote wikipedia on cyberpunk: "It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order...Cyberpunk plots often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth."
The story does have steampunk elements, but they are all visual, and unfortunately don't go beyond that in terms of what they're using the style to *try* to say. What is the author trying to use steampunk to reveal about society, and about ourselves? What morality play is in effect that ONLY steampunk can tell? (And also, what morals are we also to question by using the Steampunk genre?) It's not like "The Difference Engine," wherein the style reaches to the conclusion that the rapid development of technology is a bad thing. Steampunk shouldn't just be there for its own sake, it needs to DO something and serve a deeper purpose than just as what we see.
I would chalk this up to the notion that there is no "originator" steampunk title that "Neuromancer" serves as for cyberpunk, nothing that first sets the frame of reference and "rules" for how that world works. But that's not necessarily a fault with Boneshaker, but it doesn't help its case.
This is by no means a bad book. If you're a sci-fi and/or steampunk afficionado, this is probably for you. It's not laden with a lot of exposition or heavy sci-fi gibberish. While it didn't pull me in and hit me over the head with an Awesome Stick, your experience may vary. It's kind of a popcorn book, or a Saturday afternoon movie. If you're looking for lighter faire, you could do worse than Boneshaker.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you?