Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Inexplicables (The Clockwork Century)
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on December 5, 2012
I've lost track of what volume number in the Clockwork Century Series The Inexplicables represents, but the mind, and pen, of Cherie Priest delivers this installment in a way that is still refreshing. The usual cast of characters is there, plus a new teen protagonist. If this is your first venture into this alternate late nineteenth century, shame on you for not discovering it sooner! No worries, though, as there are enough mild explanations as to who the cast of characters are that you should be up to date in no time. For veterans of this blight filled Seattle, there is more history of revealed.

Perhaps because this story comes back inside Seattle, I felt The Inexplicables was the strongest since the original Clockwork Century novel, Boneshaker. The big twist here, without giving away too much, was a guest appearance by Sasquatch. While some may argue that the Sasquatch related elements could be removed without influencing the plot, I have a distinct feeling this character will be back. I've come to appreciate Ms Priest's storytelling and don't think she would introduce such an element unless there was a really good reason to bring that character in.

I am also coming to appreciate some of the underlying social commentary that runs through this Time That Never Was. In addition to advancing the Good Guys vs Bad Guys plot, we have a story of redemption. Rector Sherman, the newest character, lives in an orphanage and makes money on the side selling "Sap" . . . when he's not sampling from his latest batch. When we meet Rector, he is at the end of his time in the orphanage and possibly near the end of his life because of the drug usage. Through support of friends he finds physical redemption and by the time we leave him, he is well on the road to physical recovery. My compliments to the author for getting this across, without having to hit the reader over the head with this moral, while still advancing the rest of the plot.

The action is well paced and the dialog is well done. The development of the main characters is very well done. The flaws lie in the development of secondary characters. For the most part, they are confined to the wings: they are talked about, but there is no real history revealed about them and not much development of these secondary characters. While the science may be somewhat flawed, you just need to remind yourself, this is Steampunk. Science is reinvented and reconceived as needed to fit the times.

Despite these misgivings, The Inexplicables is thoroughly enjoyable and a welcome addition to the Clockwork Century. Overall, I'll go four stars for this work. If you're a fan of this series, you need it for your collection. If you are new to Steampunk, the American twist is refreshing.

(Review Originally Published on Librarything)
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on December 20, 2012
The Clockwork Century has been a boon companion for several years. Ever since BONESHAKER won the Locus several years ago, Cherie Priest's alternate history steam-punk saga has rewarded fans with stories of unique voice and concept.

Unlike DREADNOUGHT and GANYMEDE, the plot of THE INEXPLICABLES is not a downhill ride to a wild conclusion, but a slow climb where the journey is worth more than the destination. Bringing the reader back to the setting of BONESHAKER, Priest sprinkles in familiar characters and settings that make the story immediately feel familiar. Unlike the previous novels, the main character, Rector Sherman, is not immediately likable and it is that contrast between the comfortable, familiar setting and a rough, abrasive main character that makes the story work.

Framed around a threat to the familiar and dangerous Seattle and a minor mystery around the titular inexplicables, the overall plot of the book is not its strong point. However, THE INEXPLICABLES is, primarily, a story of Rector and his maturation from boy to man, from junkie to sober, and, overall, from loner to friend. Those looking for the the wonder of BONESHAKER, the breathless speed of DREADNOUGHT or the intricacy of GANYMEDE won't find it in THE INEXPLICABLES. But if you are looking for a quiet story of growth and maturation, an appreciation of personal discovery and above all, a last love letter from Ms Priest to the characters and settings of The Clockwork Century, do yourself a favor and pick up this book.

You won't regret this one last trip around the block.
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on August 16, 2014
I'm glad I got this as a used book through an Amazon seller. And that saddens me, because after reading Boneshaker and Dreadnought, I was a fan. I mean a FAN of Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series. The world building is first rate, the scene setting, the descriptions, the mood and tone and pacing were just stellar in those first two books. 5 stars to both of them, no complaints at all.

I read this one out of order, and I'm hoping Ganymede turns out to be better. Below are the reasons I'm giving The Inexplicables 2 stars.

1 - poor quality of writing. Unlike the first two in the series, the phrasing and description in this one grew clunky, choppy, poorly executed. What had previously been a thrilling ride through a masterfully conceived storyworld full of exciting dangers, mystery, and wonder instead became a bit of tedium in places, so much so that I had to force myself to read every word. I loved reading Boneshaker and Dreadnought. Not so much The Inexplicables. It wasn't a chore, but it wasn't anywhere near as delightful and enthralling as the earlier books.

2 - bad copyediting. This one is on the publisher, and this is why I say I'm glad I got the book used from an Amazon seller. If I'd paid full price, I'd be asking Tor for my money back. Call me a stickler, call me OCD, I don't care. You don't publish a novel under the pretense of putting out a professional product and then leave in 3 typographical errors, the aforementioned clunky writing, and at least one instance of the author leaving herself a note to revise something. I swear. Read page 260, about 2/3 down the page. There's a parenthetical insertion there that has no real transition from the surrounding text, and the way it's written screams "author's note to self". The copyeditor was asleep at the wheel here, and that irks me. Self-published authors are faulted all the time for putting out poorly edited or even unedited work. When a professional house does the same thing, they get the same treatment.

3 - poor characterization. The usual suspects from the series are here, and I remembered them well enough from Boneshaker and Dreadnought, so I liked seeing them when they showed up. The central protagonist, however, lacked any compelling qualities. I didn't really care much about his plight. Whenever he ended up in a dodgy situation, I actually felt like he deserved it. At the very least, I didn't care if he survived or not. I was more concerned about the other characters, and that weakened the story something terrible. What I did like about Rector Sherman was that he had an unconventional background and unconventional qualities (he's a drug addict) for a protagonist. But with a set up like that, it's somewhat essential that the character experience some peril or trauma related to his background. Otherwise, it's a parade of people wagging fingers at him to never touch that evil sap ever again cross his heart and hope to die. Mixed in are frequent soliloquies in which Rector debates the pros and cons of his addiction, grapples with the urge, the constant urge to use again. Except it isn't constant and like much of the problems that the characters encounter in the story, Rector's risk of using again and getting himself into trouble just gets swatted aside like an annoying fly. Repeatedly. The moment where he finally "chooses his loyalty" as the blurb says he will just falls completely flat.

4 - lack of any real conflict. Except at about the 70% mark where the true threat is revealed, there isn't much in the story that presents anything resembling peril or conflict or problems to solve. And the ultimate resolution of the conflict was a miserable Deus Ex Machina! The characters had all done pretty well setting up life inside the walled city of old Seattle, forced underground to avoid the poison gas and zombies aside. Rector spends a little while struggling to adapt, but he makes quick work of it really, so when he runs into the same problems again later on, it's like he's just spinning his wheels. Sure, drug addicts often go through that experience, but that doesn't make for good storytelling. And then an off stage resolution of the major conflict? Really? We don't even get to see the action?

There were so many opportunities for the book to excel, for Rector's past to catch up with him and force him to choose a life of sobriety or a life of addiction, and for that to be the real conflict and threat the whole cast would have to face. Threats to life and limb exist and come up now and then, but the three main characters, Huey, Zeke, and Rector, all get by pretty well unscathed. Nothing happens that causes any of them to have an epiphany or run into so much trouble it looks like they won't make it out. Since those are the hallmarks of the first two stories, and what got me to love the series so much, it was really disappointing to find them left out in this one.

The eponymous "inexplicables" are a clever addition, and one that I appreciate seeing. Much of the series is an amalgam of historical truth, myth, and historical invention, and the author excels at creating suspense around her chief characters (excluding Rector Sherman here). That said, the side plot involving the inexplicables fell flat for me. It was a short story on its on and would have worked really well as such. Putting them into this novel, and making them the focus by titling the book that way wasn't the best idea, IMO. It was like having both feet on separate trains with the constant worry that the tracks might eventually diverge.
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on October 14, 2014
Cherie Priest has gotten dumped on a bit for this one, with some calling it the weakest of the Clockwork Century books. I think that's a bit unfair. Even though it's clearly not the strongest entry by a long shot, I think I enjoyed its basic story (and certainly the back half) to be much more enjoyable than Clementine. That still remains the weakest entry for me.

That said, I think most people have issue with the main character, Rector. He's a whiny, angsty teenager with a drug addiction. This isn't a coming of age story, though. It's a redemption story. I applaud Cherie Priest for writing a protagonist that isn't likable from the word go and turning him into someone who eventually is. She's written her fair share of anti-hero protagonists, but all of them had a certain rogue charm as soon as the reader is introduced to them. Rector doesn't. His utter lack of charm as a thief and junkie makes the first few chapters of the book a big of a slog, but it creates a real arc for the character that moves slowly and has a payoff.

I enjoyed returning to the Blighted Seattle of Boneshaker (which will still remain an epic that's head and shoulders above everything else in Clockwork Century except for maybe Ganymede) and seeing all of the characters introduced in many of the previous volumes work together to take out a new series of threats to their poisoned but hard-earned city. Definitely a worthy volume to read if you're into the series, but I certainly wouldn't start here. You will be lost and perplexed. Definitely start with Boneshaker.
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on January 8, 2013
My first Cherie Priest book was Boneshaker and I thought it was fantastic. I can almost smell the movie rights now....

I bought the Inexplicables and hoped that Cherie would continue to build upon the characters, the lore of the world she created and threads of the plot line. She did although not as aggressively as I had hoped.

Don't get me wrong, the book was still a solid "A". I really enjoyed it although I read it in a little under two days. Yes, I am a college educated 47 year old so digesting this shouldn't be a stretch.

I liked Boneshaker so much I actually re-read parts of it. Throughout the Boneshaker I thought the imagery was so rich I thought of the Harry Potter series and JK Rowlings ability to paint a scene within my imagination. I liked Boneshaker that much.

The Inexplicables was not far off from that however it built upon some characters that were introduced in Boneshaker and cleaned up in the aftermath of the war and Dr. Minnericht plus further definition of the blight and some of its long term effects.

Did I like it? Absolutely. It had some well designed action and further detailed out the steam punk Seattle that Ms. Priest has so beautifully laid out. After I read it I wanted a little bit more though. I liked the angle of the blight getting out although the whole idea of the capture and illicit use of the blight got tiresome after a while. It became a drug war with zombies playing a bit part and the real bad guys being other drug manufacturers. Good villains no doubt but short lived ones at best.

So was it a good read? 100%. Was it as good as Boneshaker? Not quite. Would I still buy and read it? Absolutely. Was it fun. Unequivocally yes.
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on December 29, 2012
So what if you never read any of the other books and wanted a fresh perspective on Clockwork Century? Maybe you would start with a blight orphan who just turned 18 and had to leave and make it on his own. Add to that the fact he is a sap addict and you have "The Inexplicables"

The new character is Rector, someone Zeke knew and the one who helped Zeke into the city. Rector enters the story thinking Zeke is dead. As he gets into the city, he discovers Zeke alive and well and is introduced to all of the characters we already know.

The new wrinkle for the doornails and the Station are outsiders who have made a hole in the wall around Seattle and are attempting to manufacture sap on their own.

Add in a random Sasquatch or two and you essentially have the idea of where this story goes. The main characters of the book are the three boys, Zeke, Rector, and Houjin. The majority of the story is centered around them and we see how Rector makes efforts to overcome his sap addiction and become a member of this odd society.

So, is it any good? I wavered between three and four stars. I like the story, It folds well into the previous three and at the end eludes to the Union wanting to weaponize the sap to use against the Confederates. The ending scene with Mercy sending her reports East to try and help cure people of sap addiction makes me believe the next installment will focus on this part of the story/world.

Hope that helps.
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on May 6, 2015
Fun but not as suspenseful or fast-paced as I would have expected from a steampunk alternative history zombiepocaplypse storyline or from Priest. Those who have just discovered this series, I encourage you to keep reading if you stall out a bit on this 4th installment as I did and get to Book 5 Fiddlehead, which is the most fun of the whole series.
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on November 11, 2014
Though I really would have liked him to die when he fell down the chuckhole in the first few chapters, Rector is a readable character and can be kind of amusing at some points in the story. It's a bit interesting to see things from his point of view as well in different parts of the book, but otherwise I'm not a huge Rector fan. What I DO like is the story itself, which become very interesting, and the characters around him. Overall, please, please get it if you read Cherie's other books. :3
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on March 11, 2013
When I read about "The Inexplicables" I was very jazzed. I mean Clockwork Century is a great ride! Add in a Zombie Sasquatch and you're golden.

It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Priest flipped it and dope slapped me with a perspective shift and some moralizing brought on by introducing an old character. Rector Sherman, last seen giving Briar Wilkes directions into the walled city in the beginning of Boneshaker, sees the ruined city with fresh eyes. We are in a sense reintroduced to the danger and the hope that resides within.

No spoilers here. It's a different kind of book. Much of the action takes place around Rector and we piece together the gaps because we know the characters. It's a very melancholy read at times, but always hopeful. Rector has to beat his addiction to SAP and survive not only the rotters, Huey's attitude, Mercy's scolding, but also something new prowling the city. This new protagonist hides in the fog, plans his attacks and shreds the rotters like something... inexplicable.

Can Rector find redemption, salvation, and NOT strangle Huey? It's a fun and exciting read filled with our cast of characters as seen through the eyes of someone new to town. Very well done!
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on January 9, 2013
I have loved all of Priest's novels, and this one is a solid entry to the "Clockwork Century" series.

Rector is a fairly unlikeable and unreliable protagonist. That's always a tough one to write; hiw to get readers engaged in the novel when the voice into it is unpleasant? Priest finesses this by making her unlikeable protag not as unlikeable or as unreliable as would probably work better given the way he's described. He's not even a reluctant hero- a trope I love- he's just a sort of lazy and apathetic hero.

Still! The world is well-written; I loved learning more about how things actually worked in this Seattle. W got some character exposition of other characters we may have met in previous novels. The plot arc proceeds.

In short- it was a very satisfying read, and I look forward to the next.
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