Sunday, April 15, 2012

Clockwork Century, Cherie Priest

A few weeks ago Russell collected a few of Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century books from the library for me. I'd been quite anxious to read them after hearing so much about Boneshaker (steampunk with zombies, oh my!).

He brought the three books pictured above--Boneshaker, Dreadnaught, and Ganymede--the first, third, and fourth installments in the series.1 Happily the books in Clockwork Century series stand alone so it wasn't too problematic to skip Clementine, the second book.

I have to admit that I didn't enjoy Boneshaker as much as I expected to. I was enamored of the novel's premise (a Civil War-era Seattle ravished by a toxic gas, which causes zombism among other things, leaking from the earth after an unscrupulous scientist misuses new excavation technology), but less than enthused by its pervasive pessimism, slow pacing, and how much was expected of the reader in the way of suspension of belief (I'm not referring to the zombies or alternate history, but how characters interact with their environment and some of their decisions). If I hadn't already had Dreadnaught and Ganymede on hand I might not have continued on with the series.  I am happy that I did, though, because I liked the other two better than Boneshaker.

Priest's world becomes much more fully realized in Dreadnaught and Ganymede. Neither of these books take place primarily in Seattle, though Seattle's history and its role as the source of the toxic gas play an important part in the two stories.  The settings though more various in Dreadnaught (in the Southern theater of the American Civil War and cross country by rail) and Ganymede (New Orleans and its environs) are much more clearly drawn and realistic. Their characters are also more sympathetic.

I suppose it is just that Priest has found her stride by the time she writes the third book in the series. I'd recommend Dreadnaught and Ganymede unreservedly, but Boneshaker only as context for the other books in the series (though there are some really good things about it).
  1. Clementine is the second.


  1. This is a series that I've wanted to read for a long time. I was a little bit bummed when you said that Boneshaker didn't live up to expectation but happy that the series got better with each book!

  2. In Boneshaker's defense, my expectations were likely much too high.