Reading level: Adult
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: 4th book in the Clockwork Century series
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
This was the fourth book in the Clockwork Century series. I have loved all of the books in this series and was eager to read this one. This one was good, but probably my least favorite of the bunch I didn’t find the story or the characters as engaging as the first three books.
Josephine Early has a secret, and it’s not the fact that her Boarding House of Women is actually a mixed race bordello, no it’s the fact that she is helping to get a war machine called the Ganymede out of the south and to the north to help the other side of the war. Trouble is Josephine needs someone to pilot the thing and being that Ganymede is the first submarine ever and that a number of people have died trying to pilot it she’s having some trouble. Then she remembers Cly. Josephine and Cly have history, and since Cly’s trying to give up pirating and straighten out his life this might be the perfect gig for him to start with.
I love Priest’s writing style; she has enough detail in there to really help the reader picture what’s going on. I also love how she blends history, zombies, and steampunk elements together to create this awesome world. We meet Cly in Boneshaker and it was fun to read more about him. I love how the zombie issue is kind of woven into the back story and how, even though this is a serparate story from the first three books, it still has many elements of those books tied in with it.
I did have some problems with this book too. Josephine wasn’t my favorite character, I just had trouble engaging with her. This was odd because I usually love Priest’s quirky, strong female leads. Josephine just rubbed me the wrong way though; she was too abrasive and too cold to be very likable. I liked Cly better, but he wasn’t in the story nearly as much as Josephine. With Cly and Josephine’s history together I expected them to interact more and have more tension, but this didn’t really happen.
I also enjoyed the number of social issues that are addressed in this book: issues of race, war, sexual orientation, etc are discussed and interesting points are brought up. Nothing incredibly unique, but there is some food for thought there. I was a little surprised when one of the characters was revealed to be transexual…mostly because I didn’t understand how it added to the story, the way this was revealed at the end was a bit odd. I am wondering if that will carry on to the next book or if it was just included for novelty.
I also had some problems with the plot. There is a lot going on in this book but the overall premise and goal of the book was pretty simple; to get the Ganymede out of the marsh and into the river to deliver to the other side of the war. This is the main issue the whole book deals with and at times I found it to be a bit tedious. I understand that the Ganymede was supposed to provide a turning point for the war; I just didn’t find it all that interesting. Maybe it’s because I am not a history buff and don’t like war stories all that much; but I thought this book had a lot less adventure and steampunk elements than previous books in this series and a lot more tactics and war games.
Overall this was a very good book, but not the strongest in this series. I didn’t think the characters were as admirable as in previous books, I also found the overall premise of getting a war machine from one place to another to be a bit tedious and boring at times. This is an excellent world though and I still find it intriguing. I enjoy Priest’s writing style and the intricacy of her descriptions a lot. I look forward to reading Inexplicable when it releases in 2012.