Synopsis: In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father's name, Zeke's mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. (from the Amazon website description)
Review: This is my first steampunk novel and it was an excellent choice. Priest's writing is clear and lively. It's not lyrical or poetic, which suits the story. She does use interesting descriptions (lemony to describe lightbulbs, foam to describe pasing out). I enjoyed her characters: round, humerous, deep, complex, sublte. Her action sequences are clear, the world and socio-cultural structure is interesting and layered, but it the story that moves her work from adequite to exceptional.
I was constantly asking:
"Is he or isn't he?"
"Will they or won't they?"
"Is that person good or bad?"
"What is going to happen?"
"Will they make it?"
Combined with the characters, this makes for a wonderful, edge-of-my-seat story. I intend to read the rest of the Clockwork Century books by Priest. I might also pick up Priest's other works as well.
Bookmarks: 7 of 10
2009 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award;
2010 Hugo Nominee;
2010 Locus Award for the Best Science Fiction Novel
Date Finished: 5-28-2011