Sunday, June 6, 2010

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Boneshaker (Tor Books, 2009) by Cherie Priest is composed of interesting parts: airships, zombies, a new drug, an 1870s Seattle locale, and a fraught mother-son relationship. Each piece works pretty well. It does not, alas, add up to more than the sum of its parts. If the reader is new to the genre, and this novel appears to be marketed to the young adult audience, then the reader may be satisfied. For those of us who have read about airships or zombies before, we might have hoped for something more. For instance, the mother-son relationship might have had a little more depth to it. In fact, they rarely occupy the same scene.

The mother, Briar, spends most of the book searching for her missing son inside the walled, zombie-infested remains of Seattle. She is appealing and entertaining, which makes it all the more painful when the author pointedly tries to mislead the reader about Briar's relationship with the evil Dr. Minnericht. An important conversation between the two characters makes little sense after revelations late in the story.

A colorful cast of characters are brave or crazy enough to live inside the walled section of Seattle. They are there because the poison gas that created the zombies can be distilled into a profitable, addictive, and illicit drug. The problem is that we are shown that no-one needs to live inside the wall to harvest the gas. Airships can scoop up the gas without ever touching down. Why, then, would anyone choose to live there?

Boneshaker is an enjoyable, action-oriented read, and it is a finalist for the upcoming Hugo awards. It probably won't get my top vote for the Hugo for best novel, but that is the subject of another post.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I read this review, it'll give me a little more caution when I (eventually) pick it up to read. I'm still looking forward to the novel, it sounds like a pretty good concept.