Review: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Rating:

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
2009, Tor

Review Summary: Boneshaker is well-written, a unique mix of steampunk/zombie action wrapped around a mystery.

Full Review:

Boneshaker is well-written, a unique mix of steampunk/zombie action wrapped around a mystery.

The author makes the unusual choice of a mother and son as the main characters, which is rare in the science fiction/fantasy realm, though the two don’t actually spend much time together during the storyline, for good and sufficient reasons. Still, it would have been nice to see a little more interaction between them, since each seems to be resourceful and independent, with an interesting family history and fairly realistic attitudes given their circumstances.

While the overall plot is pretty straight-forward, the journey itself is not, filled with interesting, complex adventures, all of which further flesh out the world the characters inhabit. Priest seems to have the knack for saying just enough, without lapsing into too much action-killing narrative.

Thematically, the author throws out numerous ideas and thought experiments, all of which are worthy of consideration in their own right – what drives people to live in squalid, dangerous conditions, what would one do in the face of an eventual zombie apocolypse, what if Stonewall Jackson had lived, how does one get mixed up with bad people and more – how do you explain your less-than-forthright past to your child?

All in all, I enjoyed Boneshaker a good deal, and the only criticism I would have is that it would have been nice to expand on the unusual situation of a mother and son relating to each other in such a time, place, and situation as they found themselves in, particularly given the characters involved.

02/25/11 CSL

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