- Series: Daniel Blackland (Book 1)
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (January 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780765376916
- ISBN-13: 978-0765376916
- ASIN: 0765376911
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 91 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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California Bones (Daniel Blackland) Paperback – January 6, 2015
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"The story is structured like a caper novel, and fans of stories about heists will enjoy it, but its fantastical elements make it an absolute must for urban-fantasy readers, too."―Booklist
"A combination of caper novel and urban fantasy packs a wallop."―Library Journal
About the Author
GREG VAN EEKHOUT is the author of one previous fantasy novel for adults, the mass-market original Norse Code. He is also the author of two middle-grade SF novels, Kid Vs. Squid and The Boy at the End of the World (a finalist for the Andre Norton Award). He lives in San Diego, California.
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The issue was that it was all of those things, but not Enough of them. We get a few lines and explanations of how osteomancy works and that Daniel is different, but after that it's mainly listing off the ingredients in people. I wanted to see more Osteomantic baddassery.
The world building was very well integrated into the story, almost to the point of being immaterial. Yes there are canals rather than boulevards, but WHY? What does that DO for us? A few lines near the end up the book don't sate my curiosity. The North/South split, the secession, and so many more things mentioned in passing... I want more of those. I want to know things.
And finally the heist plot was almost rudimentary, sketch like. It wasn't the piece de resistance like it was in Ocean's Eleven, or the Heist, or Fast Five, or any other number of heist stories. It was just some scenes, and didn't seem like it was meaty enough.
This book had so many great parts in it, but it never seemed to gel together. I dithered between 4 and 5 stars, but in the end, while I definitely want to read more from Greg, and am hoping for more in the same world, it didn't have that Something to push it into five star territory. I'd recommend this novel to teens and up with an interest in fantasy and/or heist novels.
1. People are treated as poorly here by those in power as in anything I've ever read. Human beings are abused, randomly tortured, chopped up, and used as less than human tools on a regular basis. The only thing I didn't see were people customized for particular uses, like in Frank Herbert's _The Lazarus Effect_, but that probably relates to my second point. The thing is, all this goes on, and all the npc's shrug it off like "That's how it is, kid. What's ya gonna do?" There's no resistance movement. There's no refugees trying to cross the deadly desert. Most all the members of the society just shrug this off as the norm and seem to focus on hiding from it by immersing themselves in the minutia of their daily lives.
2. This story's world's relationship to technology is strange. Mention is made of cd players, televisions, and spreadsheets. But no one in the story uses an electronic computing device even as complicated as an addition and multiplication only type calculator (I think there's cash registers, but for all you can tell, they could be entirely mechanical). There's a video monitoring room in a museum, but none of the primary characters in the story uses a phone or any other electronic communications device or even two tin cans with a string between them. The main characters are doing a heist, but with the exception of refined firearms (maybe) and some flexible mylar mirror, it seems like all the technology for and encountered by the heist is involved with magic or from the 1950's. The one time you hear a character talk about something besides magic for providing the basic infrastructure of society, he advocates for replacing magic with a well run bureaucracy (of presumably idealistic or unimaginative persons who won't attempt to manipulate that bureaucracy for more than minor personal gain). It seems as if every technological creation is an import from otherwhere and no one thinks to devise a new solution to a problem that isn't osteomantic in nature. Like the lack impetus for organized political resistance, it seems like another big blind spot. I'm not saying that I think this story needs cell phones and a character who's a technological wizard, but just that there's a background of lots of mundane technology that people use, but no apparent presence of the sort of minds that might have brought it into being.
Of course, it's possible that these aspects of the story could be a satiric reference/reaction to current urban life in Southern California, and I'm just insufficiently familiar with that to recognize the satire.
The Kingdom of Southern California?! What?
And then I was like;
Los Angeles with Venice-like waterways? What?!
And then I was like;
Eating bones of mythical creatures to gain their powers? What?!!
Then a team of misfits led by the chosen-one try to perform an impossibly hard task, there is a doublecross, a setback, some new allies, and a glorious battle at the end.
I almost cared about the characters, almost.
4 stars for world-building
Overall, decent work.
I really liked the world and the characters here. There is always a feeling of forward movement and that the danger is just around the corner.