04 August 2010
Book Review: The Boneshaker
Author: Kate Milford
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: 24 May 2010
Date Finished: 2 August 2010
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,
The Short and Sweet of It
When Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show comes to Arcane, Natalie quickly realizes all is not as it appears. Long fascinated with automata, Natalie still is horrified by Limberleg's perpetual motion automata because she knows perpetual motion is not possible, at least not in the world she knows. But Natalie and the people of Arcane have a lot to learn about the strangeness of reality.
A Bit of a Ramble
The Boneshaker is clearly a middle grade fiction story. The plot is slow moving, almost to the point of being a bit boring for me. While I'm used to stories where the fight between good and evil is set up in the first third, the hero/heroine comes to terms with his/her role in the second third, and the fight and resolution finish out the book, The Boneshaker seemed to tarry too long in the set up. The truth of the situation, of who the players are, is not revealed until well in to the final third of the book, and the climax and resolution are tightly packed in the last few chapters of the book. I just felt like it took too long to get to the good stuff.
I've heard the book described as historical fiction and as steampunk. Speaking to historical fiction, the story is set in 1913....but I never felt like a true atmosphere was created. I suppose the steampunk label is referring to the automata, but I'm not sure that the inclusion of mechanical creations is enough to warrant a steampunk classification. Then again, I am most definitely not an expert on the subject.
One thing I did find interesting and honestly a bit cheesy is the amazingly direct reference to The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band in the beginning of the novel. The plot begins with the crossroads which exist just down the road from Arcane. And as I'm sure we all know, crossroads are where deals with the Devil are made. When a guitar player stops at the crossroads, the Devil challenges him to a guitar-playing duel (what's wrong with the fiddle may I ask?). Even the details of the dual itself are Daniels' song all the way.
After reading some other reviews, I am pretty sure that I am in the minority here. Most seem to have really enjoyed the story. This, of course, got me wondering why I wasn't as thrilled with it. Immediately a possible answer popped into my head. The Boneshaker is middle grade fiction, and that is not my favorite age grouping. If you enjoy this age range, I would hazard a guess that The Boneshaker is a pretty solid read; if like me you need a bit more depth and a bit more maturity in content, I would skip it.
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And for your listening pleasure, The Devil Went Down to Georgia: