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The Waking Engine Hardcover – February 11, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Imagine Cooper’s confusion when he wakes up in what appears to be a foreign city. Imagine his surprise when he’s told he died, and this is the next step on his journey, the same journey every person takes, dying and living for thousands of years on thousands of worlds. Imagine his mind-boggling shock when he’s told that the place where he’s awakened, the City Unspoken, is usually a person’s final stop; Cooper seems to have skipped right to the end of his own journey. There are more surprises in store, too, in this imaginative SF novel, in which everyman Cooper is positioned as the (possible) savior of the rapidly disintegrating City Unspoken. The author unavoidably covers some of the same ground as Philip Jose Farmer’s classic Riverworld series (in which people are repeatedly reincarnated along the banks of a seemingly endless river), but it would be a serious mistake to think of this as a retread. Edison breaks some new ground here, and even when he’s in familiar territory, he finds his own way of exploring it. An impressive debut. --David Pitt

Review

“This debut fantasy is a fever dream of vivid imagery and dark luscious prose, reminiscent of China Miéville in its byzantine, steampunk-influenced cityscape.” ―Library Journal, starred review, on The Waking Engine

“Edison breaks some new ground here, and even when he's in familiar territory, he finds his own way of exploring it. An impressive debut.” ―Booklist on The Waking Engine

“Intensely descriptive and detailed, The Waking Engine will spur readers' imaginations.” ―RT Bookreviews

“Highly original, beautifully weird, deeply immersive, The Waking Engine is a storming debut and a fantasy guaranteed to trip you out.” ―Adam Christopher, author of Empire State and The Burning Dark on The Waking Engine

“A novel of gigantic--nay, cosmic--ideas, brought down to earth by witty characters and a delightfully clueless everyman protagonist. Universal apocalypses don't come any bigger, or more entertaining.” ―Alex Bledsoe, author of The Hum and the Shiver on The Waking Engine

“David Edison makes his debut with a novel of great creativity and richness. There's nothing small about this story, from its remarkable premise to its cast of splendidly mad characters and its complex, beautifully realized world. I can't wait for the next volume.” ―Delia Sherman, author of The Freedom Maze on The Waking Engine

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765334860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765334862
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,233,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publishers through Goodreads First Reads giveaway program.

Any fan of the fantasy/sci fi genre should take note of this highly inventive debut novel, and any fiction reader should pay attention to Edison's future output. While there are some basic problems with the novel, its numerous strengths outweigh them, most particularly the obvious talent Edison has for the writing craft. With greater experience and perhaps a bit less ambition than displayed in this novel, Edison could be a powerhouse.

"The Waking Engine" probably falls closest within the category of 'urban fantasy', but it is truly a mix of multiple genres. This blending of disparate elements becomes the defining aspect of the work, from its influences, its structure, its writing, its plot, etc. Remarkably, most of these pieces end up working when put together.

The strongest accomplishment (as appears universally acknowledged by both those that liked the book or not) is the world building. I am not convinced that the universe of "The Waking Engine" is wholly original in its ingredients - they are mined from a host of archetypic stories - but Edison certainly molds these into something his own. Decent fantasy world building is not particularly unique, but what Edison does excel at is the revelation of this world to the reader. The reveal is gradual, full of mystery, and thereby very captivating. It almost invites the reader to shout out questions as they try and gain footing in the uncertainty, bizarreness, and confusion. Tying the protagonists discoveries to the revelation for the reader helps make him relatable and helps drive the plot forward.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book gets two stars...both represent the world concept of the "Metaverse." A worthy and thought provoking idea. The praise ends there, though. I found the author's writing to be quite dyslexic with a haphazard plot line and fumbling run-on descriptions. I also had the uncanny feeling that the author killed off a "real-life" boyfriend hidden within a character. The only reason I would recommend this book is to get to know the Metaverse.
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Format: Hardcover
I must have taken the red pill.
The Waking Engine was a freaking mind-trip and a half! Splintering my braincells doesn't even begin to cover it! The concepts alone were mind bogling and so kick butt that it took every bit of my rapt attention to process it all. You die but then you wake in some other world...and you can die again countless times, each time possibly awakening in another world!? What the frick right!? But this city in which the book takes place, where souls go to die, the City Unspoken, it defies my every attempt at description. A place I both long to see and hope I never see, where all worlds collide in a big crazy hot mess of odd...of the best kind of course.

"A most deplorable gem of a borough." - pg 22

"Earth?" Asher crowed. "You named your home after dirt?"
"Hey, **** you." Cooper frowned. "You're supposed to be filling me in, not attacking my cultural heritage. The afterlife is hard enough as it is." - pg 28

As it continues to disquiet my mind and give me the creepy crawls...
There is something to be said about descriptive images and content that can literally get under your skin - but in such a dark way that you know deep down these things are just wrong, wrong. You end up having visceral feelings of both revulsion and fascination that you can't stop yourself from reading. I dig it...I reeeally dig it. I felt a bit of that because some of the things taking place are just that morbid. It explores pieces of humanity that might be better left in the dark but that when you see snatches of it, like a train wreck you can't or won't look away.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Waking Engine by David Edison is a complex, but a bit muddled amalgamation of fantasy and sci-fi with a strong leaning towards fantasy. The basic premise is a universe where no one ever dies, but merely reincarnates in another world (a lack of belly buttons indicate reincarnation). Our hero, Cooper, wakes up on a world in the City Unspoken (but with his belly button, so that makes him special) which has been regarded as the only place where one can permanently die, sometimes. The rest of the tale revolves around something wrong in the city with Cooper holding the key to putting things right.

While there is clearly a nod to Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld, Edison does not overload the book with historical figures, nor overdue his interpretation of their characters. The politics of the city are complicated and largely inscrutable with lots of 'that's how things are' scenarios. Somehow, Cooper slowly becomes self aware of what his is supposed to do, although in the end, it's unclear exactly what he has done. There's much uncovering of true identities, but underlying motives are vague, ill-defined, and largely random.

All that said, Edison is both an imaginative writer as well as extremely literary with vivid and detailed descriptions. This is a tough read both in terms of following the plot itself and the drivers for the major characters, as well as keeping track of the multiple parallel story lines he creates. Reading requires efforts along the lines of a dense textbook.
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