Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper

Synopsis: The Honorable Alice B. Michaels is in a life-or-death struggle for survival - socially speaking, that is. At age twenty-one, her unladylike interest in automatons, and the unfortunate deaths of most of her family from the clockwork plague, have sealed her fate as a less than desirable marriage prospect. But a series of strange occurrences in about to lead Alice in a direction quite beyond the pale.
High above the earth on the American airship USS Juniper, Gavin Ennock lives for the wind and the sky and his fiddle. After privateers attack the Juniper, he is stranded on the dank, dirty, merciless streets of London. When Alice's estranged aunt leaves her a peculiar inheritance, she encounters Gavin under most unusual - even shocking - circumstances.
Then Alice's inheritance attracts the attention of the Third Ward, a clandestine organization that seize the inventions of mad geniuses the plague leaves behind - all for the good of the Empire. But even the Third Ward has secrets. And when Alice and Gavin discover them, a choice must be made between the world and the Empire, no matter the risk to all they hold dear.

Review: I picked this up on a whim in B&N, as it looked intriguing - clockwork plague, mad genius, a girl in social trouble. I anticipated a well-crafted book with rich characters and fine world-building. Oh, was I wrong. It was boring. Just plain boring. Alice was a waffling ninny, Gavin was a boy, the villains were dull, the danger never frightening, the "big reveal" was meh - and so on.
My first, and biggest, obstacle was that Alice was 21 and Gavin, 17. I am not certain what world the author comes from, but those ages may be physically 4 years apart, but in maturity, they are about 100. Never in my life has I heard of a 21 year old female attracted to a 17 year old male. That's like a college girl dating a boy from high school. Not going to happen.
I might have overcome this if I'd bonded with the characters, believed the story line or didn't guess the ending about 1/3 through the book. In the end, this story had many chances to be amazing, but fell flat on all of them, much to my dismay. There is so little steampunk prose out - it's a shame this one isn't any good. My advice - stick to Gail Carringer or Cherie Priest for steampunk.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-2-2011
Pages: 381

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