Boneshaker by Cherie Priest: Book Review

Publication Date: September 2009
Pages: 416
Series: Book 1 in the Clockwork Century
Reason I Read It: Sword & Laser Book Club

From GoodReads' Boneshaker site
Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.
As the GoodReads summary hints, this is a story of a teenage boy, Zeke, who goes into zombie territory, so he can better understand his family history. His mother, Briar, goes into Seattle after Zeke without a care for her own safety. As they both venture through the city, they meet people who they are forced to trust whether these strangers have earned their trust or not.

Boneshaker is an odd assortment of genres smashed together (steampunk, zombies, and mother-son bonding); however, it works. The story starts off a bit slow with an introduction of Briar and Zeke and their complicated family history; however, once Zeke enters Seattle, the story moves lightening fast. Cherie Priest switches between the two characters POV throughout most of the book. This POV flipping keeps the reader wanting more and worrying about the character at the end of each chapter. Although the story at its most basic is about a mom trying to find her son and get them to safety, there is enough mystery about their family to keep the story unique and the reader interested. I should note that some of the mysteries were fairly easy to unravel and some others had to be unraveled by the author, because the reader didn't have the necessary information. I didn't mind the easy mystery, because I was reading the book for the zombies, not the mystery. However, I am not a fan of mysteries that the reader cannot solve on their own. When the reveal for unsolvable mysteries happen, they feel anticlimactic. Outside of this little annoyance, the story was fun. Priest did a good job balancing the zombie danger with the people danger. I definitely was just as scared of some of the people as I was of the zombies. 

Unlike other zombie books that I have read, Zeke is not the awesome, zombie slaying teenager that you typically see. Zeke is definitely brave, because he ventured into Seattle by himself; however, outside of that, he is a bit useless. It feels like he is acting a bit young for his age, but I don't remember what it is like to be 15. The careless bravery he exhibits at times does feel teenager-like though. The star of this book is Zeke's mom, Briar. She goes into Seattle and kicks some butt. She is quite impressive. I really liked her character and how strong she is. My one critique is that she is a bit too perfect. We don't learn why is appears so capable in this situation based on the limited history we have of her. She is a good shot with a rifle and fairly fearless even though she hasn't used a weapon in at least 15 years (if ever) and works a mundane factory job. I am not asking for her to be a shark wrangler or anything; it just feels a bit out of character. At the same time, everyone seems fairly awesome with dealing with the zombies (except for Zeke).

Overall, I thought this was a fun and exciting read. Once I got through the first 50 pages or so, the story really picks up, and I found myself making excuses to sit down and read it.
I give this book 3 out of 5 skulls (I couldn't find any cute zombies).


Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...
October 8, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Despite the slow start I am glad you enjoyed this, I think your skulls are cute..LOL I love steampunk and had no idea there were zombies..must dig out my copy!

Unknown said...
October 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM

I am glad that you like the skulls. I was getting tired of stars, so I thought I would branch out a bit. :)

Based on the cover, you wouldn't think it is a zombie book, but it is!

Berls said...
October 9, 2013 at 1:55 AM

I had no idea this was a zombie book! It sounds pretty unique and I love that it's the mom that kicks butt. I'm not a fan of mysteries I can't solve, but I still think this could be a fun read. Great review :-)

Unknown said...
October 9, 2013 at 10:02 PM

The unsolvable mystery isn't a huge deal; it is just a pet peeve of mine. I really liked this book, because mom was the hero. I feel that I don't read enough books where the parents are the superhero.

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...
October 13, 2013 at 1:12 AM

A bit useless! Exactly! So do you think you'll continue with the series of books? I don't know if I will - I read this one a few years ago.

Unknown said...
October 13, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Apparently, the book series is more of a collection of stories within the same universe. The series doesn't follow one set of protagonists across all the books. I have heard good things about some of the later books, so I might pick them up at some point, but I have other things that I want to read more right now.

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