Series: Standalone Book
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Publisher: Amulet Books
Length: 354 Pages
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Reviewed Format: eGalley through NetGalley
My Rating: ★★½☆☆☆
Lena, as the female heroine and main character of the story, was –for me– a bit disappointing; she began as a strong character and somehow was replaced halfway through the story. I like my heroines to be strong. Lena’s insecurities were so deeply rooted on her need to be accepted that she let others dictate her actions instead of taking ownership of her situation. She is constantly just waiting to be rescued and relies on others to be able to do anything. Strangely, that is not the character that we meet at the beginning of the book. From the get go Lena seems to be ready to find out her father and just try to make it on her own. However, as soon as she arrives at the first point on her destination she completely develops the damsel in distress syndrome. Even when she ‘takes matters into her own hands’ she is just ignoring the evidence right in front of her and letting other characters’ decisions and actions determine her moves and her path.
I have to say, Lena aside, the world created by the author is beautifully rendered. Zephyr House, where a good chunk of the action takes place, is a magnificent home that I truly wish I could visit and I would have like for the characters to had the chance to explore it better. It is here that we see the major aspects of steampunk come to life. The description of the people and the peculiars are great and it helps the mood of the story. Of all the characters my favorite is Ms. Mumbles a very tough and even more loyal Scree cat.
The tone was, for the most part, very slow. I like stories that have a good combination of action and reflection. Action doesn’t have to be limited or solely relied upon high adrenaline pumping scenarios, but I believe that once the scene is over, the reader most feel like something was accomplished or discovered. Either by learning something or reaching a goal, the reader most feel like the story is progressing. Unfortunately there are many scenes where the characters are just sitting around doing things but accomplishing very little very slowly.
The bottom line is that I enjoyed parts of the story while others felt like they were dragging. The world was amazing, but I couldn’t connect or relate to any of the characters. It plays with the notion of what it is that which differentiates us from mindless, soulless creatures. The story is good, just not my style; it was a bit too slow for my taste.
At the end of the book there is a small appendix by the author dedicated to elucidate the fact from the fiction within the story. For example, one –very minor– character arrives via The Pony Express to deliver some important news; in the appendix the author explains how real The Pony Express was already out of use during the time that the story takes place (late 1800s) but that she took some “liberties” and not only was The Pony Express working, it also reached farther than the real one. This appendix was a nice surprise at the end that I actually enjoyed (I usually just bypass them).
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