To start off, I’ll state what I found great about this book: the cover, the sepia tone printing, the premise. Yeah, that’s about it.
During the gold rush in the Klondike, a call for inventions is put out for a way to mine gold out of the ice. One particular scientist answers the call with a machine called the Boneshaker. But something goes horribly awry and several blocks of downtown Seattle are destroyed with the machine, releasing a nasty blight gas that turns people into the living dead. Sixteen years later, and Briar, the wife of the scientist who created the Boneshaker, is living with their son, Zeke. Zeke sets off to the walled off city of zombies to find the truth of his family’s history and thus, Briar sets off after him.
Zombies? Steampunk? Alternate history? Even pirates? What an awesome combination – conceptually, anyways. I don’t feel Cherie pulled it off though. For one, her writing seemed mostly dull and flat. There was an occasional line or two that cried out with a unique style that could very well be Cherie’s voice, had she maybe honed it and used it for the majority of the book. But that’s not really the case here. Her way of describing things just didn’t work. I had a hard time imagining this alternate history, picturing what the blight infested city looked like, or even imagining these characters to be anything more than two dimensional because most of her description just felt hollow and sometimes confusing. I found myself having to reread passages to understand what it was she was saying.
The characters all fit the roles they were assigned to, though they all felt sub par. None of them captured my attention, nor did I find that I could relate to any of them or even find myself caring about what happened to them. Part of this might have been because I felt there were too many ‘coincidences’ in the book. Way too many times where ‘fate’ came together to pull the story through, where things lined up just at the right time to propel the story further or lead everyone to the places they were meant to go. I can suspend disbelief for a while, but this book left me not too concerned about the characters because I knew that if one of the characters was to fall into trouble, the author would just have a way written out for them to ‘somehow’ survive the situation. It led me fearing a bit of deus ex machina.
The most obvious indicator that a novel has my complete attention and interest is that I am anxious to get back to it, to pick up where I left off, to find out what the characters are going to get themselves into or out of next. This wasn’t the case for me with Boneshaker. It just lacked…I don’t really know. A spark, a pizazz. It felt like a melting pot for some unique genres that just didn’t boil things down to a story that captivated me. I found myself skipping my reading sessions for days at a time because I really just didn’t want to get back into the book. I finally just finished it so I could say I read it.
To me, even the ending seemed a bit anticlimactic and maybe a bit forced. However, I believe this is actually the first in a series, so hopefully the second one will spice things up a bit, if I want to bother picking it up.